Jury in Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding rape trial warned to 'keep an open mind'
A jury sworn in for the rape trial of Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been warned to 'keep an open mind' during the hearing which is expected to last for five weeks.
Mr Jackson (26) of Oakleigh Park, Belfast and Mr Olding (24) from Ardenlee Street, Belfast are each charged with one count of rape, in relation to the same woman at a property in south Belfast on June 28 2016. Both deny the charges. Jackson also denies a further charge of sexual assault.
Two other men are facing charges regarding the same incident.
Blane McIlroy, (26), from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, is accused of one count of exposure, while Rory Harrison, (25), from Manse Road, Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.
All four have pleaded not guilty and are on bail.
Judge Patricia Smyth cautioned jurors to keep an open mind throughout the trial.
“Keep your minds open until the very end. Your views may well change as the evidence unfolds and that is perfectly normal," she said.
The judge also warned the jury to ignore press reports on the trial, saying it was likely that there will be "a lot of press interest", while also cautioning them not to conduct any research into individuals or anything to do with the trial.
She said: “It would be wrong and it would be in breach of your oath or affirmation if you do," warning that there have been situations in England where jurors did not follow instructions and sentences were imposed.
Fly-half Jackson has been capped for Ireland 25 times and centre Olding has played four times. They are also established stars for Ulster Rugby.
All four defendants, dressed in dark suits, white shirts and ties, sat beside each other in a dock in the centre of the courtroom as the jury was empanelled.