Saturday 19 January 2019

Man accused of naming rugby rape trial woman in court no-show

Defence lawyer said 'he's out of the jurisdiction'

Accused: Sean McFarland could face a £5,000 fine if convicted
Accused: Sean McFarland could face a £5,000 fine if convicted Newsdesk Newsdesk

A man accused of revealing the name of a woman who claimed she was raped by two former Ireland and Ulster rugby stars will confirm next month if he is to contest the charge.

Sean McFarland (35) allegedly breached a lifetime ban on reporting the identity of the complainant in the case against Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

Both players were unanimously cleared of rape following a high-profile trial in Belfast earlier this year.

Amid unprecedented public interest, concerns over social media commentary persisted throughout the 42-day hearing.

McFarland, of Rinnalea Gardens in the west of the city, is charged with publishing the complainant's name on a date between February 7-9 this year, in contravention of the Sexual Offences (Amendment) Act 1992.

He was not present as proceedings were brought before Belfast Magistrates' Court for the first time yesterday.

Defence lawyer John Finucane told District Judge Amanda Henderson: "He's out of the jurisdiction."

Granting a three-week adjournment to October 16, Mrs Henderson confirmed McFarland will be expected to give his attitude to the charge against him at that stage.

Mr Jackson and Mr Olding were unanimously acquitted of raping the then 19-year-old woman at a party in Mr Jackson's house following a night out in Belfast in June 2016.

Blane McIlroy, 26, was unanimously cleared of a charge of exposure, while Rory Harrison, 25, was unanimously found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information at the same trial.

Belfast Telegraph

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