Thursday 19 September 2019

Man guilty of naming 'rape' trial woman on internet

Acquitted: Former Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson. Picture: Sportsfile
Acquitted: Former Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson. Picture: Sportsfile

The conviction of a man who used social media to name the woman at the centre of the Ulster rugby rape trial should act as a deterrent for future cases, police said.

Sean McFarland from Belfast pleaded guilty yesterday to breaching the lifetime ban on naming a complainant in a sex offence case.

It is understood to be the first ever conviction for such an offence in Northern Ireland.

The 36-year-old from Rinnalea Gardens in the city was fined £300 (€338) and ordered to pay an additional £15 offenders' levy at Belfast Magistrates' Court.

Former Ireland and Ulster players Paddy Jackson (26) and Stuart Olding (25) were both acquitted of raping the woman after a high-profile trial in Belfast earlier this year.

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Zoe McKee said: "This is the first time that anyone in Northern Ireland had been prosecuted for breaching this right to anonymity and should act as a deterrent to anyone who names a complainant in any serious sexual offence, who are entitled to lifelong anonymity.

"We understand how difficult it can be for anyone to report a rape.

"I would encourage anyone who has been the victim of any sexual crime either recently or in the past to contact police or to speak to someone about what has happened."

McFarland, who could have faced a maximum fine of £5,000, was one of two people investigated for alleged breaches of the anonymity law, but prosecutors in Northern Ireland decided not be pursue the other case due to insufficient evidence.

Irish Independent

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