Friday 27 April 2018

Jury delivers unanimous 'not guilty' verdicts on all charges

Decision is reached in less than four hours

Blane McIlroy, Stuart Olding, Paddy Jackson and Rory Harrison
Blane McIlroy, Stuart Olding, Paddy Jackson and Rory Harrison

Eimear Cotter

Rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been found not guilty of raping a young student at a house party.

Paddy Jackson (26) was also found not guilty of sexually assaulting the then 19-year-old woman. Blane McIlroy (26) was found not guilty of exposure, while Rory Harrison (25) was acquitted of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

After nine weeks of evidence and more than 30 witnesses, it took the jury of eight men and three women just three hours and 45 minutes to reach a unanimous verdict.

Judge Patricia Smyth asked the foreman to stand. The foreman replied "not guilty" as each count was read out.

The men had all denied the charges, with Mr Jackson and Mr Olding claiming the sexual activity was consensual.

It was the defence case the woman made a false allegation of rape because she regretted getting involved in consensual group sex and feared she may have been filmed and the images would appear on social media.

In her evidence, the woman said she went to Ollie's nightclub with her friends and then to an afterparty in Mr Jackson's home. They went upstairs and had a consensual kiss.

However, he tried to undo her trousers and she told him she wasn't interested so they went back downstairs.

After a while, she decided to leave. She had left her clutch bag upstairs and went up to get it. The next thing she said she remembered was Mr Jackson at the foot of the bed.

You might think you would "kick and fight and scream but it doesn't work that way", she told the court, adding: "You literally freeze."

Asked if Mr Jackson said anything to her, she shook her head, saying "no".

"Nothing about me was physically telling him to keep going," she claimed.

She said the next thing she recalled was the door opening and Mr Olding walked into the room. "My heart just sank. I knew what was going to happen," she claimed.

Forced

She alleged she looked into Mr Jackson's eyes and said, "Please not him as well."

She claimed Mr Olding then forced her to give him oral sex.

The door opened again and she saw Mr McIlroy, who was standing there "completely naked, holding his penis in his hands".

"I thought this is not happening again," she told the court, and she got off the bed and grabbed her clothes.

She claimed Mr McIlroy said: "You f***ed the other guys, why not me?" and said his whole stance was "aggressive".

"At that point my fight instincts kicked in. There was not a chance it was going to happen again," she said.

"I remember shouting at him 'how many times does it take to say no before it sinks in?'" she said.

In his evidence, Mr Jackson said he and the woman went upstairs and began to kiss.

"We were both kissing each other. It got a bit more passionate. When I was lying on the bed (she) was on top of me. She started to bite my lower lip. It was playful but pretty hard."

He said Mr Olding walked into the room and she performed oral sex on his friend, while he touched her with his hands. He said there was no penile intercourse because he could not find a condom.

Asked if he forced the woman to engage in sexual activity, Mr Jackson replied: "No. I wouldn't do that." He later claimed: "She was enjoying it."

Mr Olding also insisted, in his evidence, he did not force the woman in any way.

He claimed that when he walked into Mr Jackson's bedroom he saw Mr Jackson and the woman "kissing on the bed".

He said he was invited to stay, the woman kissed him and then performed a consensual sex act on him.

In his evidence, Mr McIlroy said he walked in on Mr Jackson and the student in bed together. He said she turned to him, kissed him and performed a sex act on him, though this evidence was disputed by Mr Jackson.

Mr Harrison denied he "tried to cover up or manage" the woman, telling the jury "Patrick Jackson is the last person in the world who would rape someone".

Irish Independent

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