Saturday 22 September 2018

'Months' of Paddy Jackson's life have been 'blighted’ by rugby rape case, jury hears

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Rugby player Paddy Jackson's life has been "blighted" for almost two years by the rape allegations, his lawyer has said.

Brendan Kelly QC described the evidence against the sportsman as "untruthful and inconsistent".

Summing up the evidence on Friday, the defence lawyer warned the jury at Belfast Crown Court not to pay attention to the headlines the case has attracted.

"We have got this headline of rugby player every day. Rugby rape.

"But you scratch the surface of this man, Paddy Jackson, you start to see a bit more. You get to see what he is," said Mr Kelly.

He added: "The question is, does the quality of this evidence with its untruths and central inconsistencies, does it deserve a conviction of this gravity?"

"Twenty months of his (Jackson's) life have been blighted by evidence of this poor quality.

"Each time evidence was checked, each time evidence came from a video or another source, the complainant's account fell."

Mr Kelly told the jury that Jackson had not been obliged to take the stand in his own defence but he chose to do so.

"A defendant need play no part in a criminal trial. Some defendants choose to give evidence.

"In this case Mr Jackson and his co-defendants have all given evidence. No one has hidden. No one has tried to conceal. Everyone has got up, with their good character, and given their account," he said.

Referring to Mr Jackson's success on the rugby field, Mr Kelly asked the jury not to hold that against him.

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA

"He's not looking for special treatment. That's never been his pitch ever," he said.

The lawyer added: "Don't fall into 'is he trying to play the rugby card?'

"He's not. The fact he played for Ireland - so what?"

He referred to CCTV footage outside Ollies nightclub which showed Jackson standing with his hands in his pockets.

"The person you look at there is half an hour later turned into a marauding rapist," said Mr Kelly.

Mr Kelly also said that there is no evidence that other girls at the party would have done anything other than help the alleged victim if they witnessed a rape.

"(The alleged victim) confirmed that the girls had been nice to her downstairs. There was no suggestion made by (the woman) that they would do something other than help a girl of her age in those circumstances," he said.

Rory Harrison. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Rory Harrison. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Mr Kelly added: "There was no sign from their behaviour that night that they would do anything other than help her if they witnessed her being raped. The backdrop is not a form of animosity. There was no enemy or foe presented in (witness) Dara Florence."

He also said that Dara Florence, who walked in on the woman engaged in sexual activity with Jackson and co-accused Stuart Olding, had no phone at the time.

"Dara Florence had no telephone in her hand at the door. There were no pictures being taken at the door," he said.

Mr Kelly said that Dara Florence is central to the case.

"Dara Florence confirmed from what she could see (the woman) was not distressed. Dara Florence was not stupid. She was articulate. She spoke clearly," said Mr Kelly.

He added: "Dara Florence's evidence is extraordinary. In she walked and that was her conclusion."

Blane McIlroy
Blane McIlroy

Referring to Ms Florence's evidence that Jackson asked her if she wanted to join in Mr Kelly said: "What did they do to conceal (the rape)?"

He added: "When people commit crime they tend to hide, they tend to conceal what they did because they don't want to get caught.

"What did these two violent rapists do when she walked in? They invited her to join in. Dara Florence is absolutely central to this case."

Referring to the prosecution case that co-accused Blane McIlroy delivered Olding's "lines" to police about what happened that night Mr Kelly said it was "complete nonsense".

"There is no possibility of the theory that's clutched at by the Crown holding any water," he added.

He reminded the jury about the woman's comments that she felt humiliated and mortified after the rape.

"Is that not something you would feel if what had happened was group sex and you had been identified in the course of it?" he asked.

Mr Kelly told the jury that the woman had been "petrified" that her sexual activity with Jackson and Olding would end up on social media.

"It was her main concern the morning after and in the days that followed. If it is your main concern why not tell a single friend?" he said.

The lawyer said she told her friend she had been raped in case an "expose" made its way onto social media.

"If it did get out on social media, this expose with this well known rugby player, one of the first persons to find out would be (said friend).

"So what do you do if you are trying to derail those rumours? You get in first, as soon as you wake that morning and your first port of call is (your friend)," he said.

Mr Kelly told the jury that after the woman told her friends she had been raped "she was stuck".

Mr Kelly claimed that the police notes in this case were a "shambles".

He referred to the alleged victim's omission in her first police interview that Dara Florence had walked in on the sexual activity and was asked by Jackson if she wanted to join in.

"It was absolutely vital that from that ABE (Achieving Best Evidence) what was missing was the independent witness walking in. It was the reason for the lie, the reason she was petrified this would end up on social media," said Mr Kelly.

He added: "There's real doubt as to when it was that the independent witness and what she had to say was first mentioned to police."

He told the jury there was doubt over "when it was, why it was and how it was (the alleged victim) finally told the police 'by the way, someone did come in.'"

Mr Kelly criticised the way in which the ABE interviews were conducted by police, referring to how inconsistencies in the alleged victim's account were handled.

"If you come across significant inconsistencies then you would go back and you might re-interview. For some reason that wasn't done.

"It would appear the reason was because that particular rule is something that didn't apply or something which the particular officer was unsure," the lawyer said.

He added that there is no forensic evidence linking Jackson to penile rape.

Mr Kelly also told the jury that the woman's failure to tell doctors during her initial medical examination that she had performed a sex act on Jackson meant that no swabs were taken from her mouth.

The lawyer reminded the jury of the prosecution's suggestion that the four defendants had concocted a story to tell police.

"It's some plan these four have contrived to mislead the police, to mislead you.

"You decide whether or not the crown have stretched their evidence in that regard," he said.

Mr Kelly concluded his summing up of the evidence.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday.

The judge told the jury to put the case out of their minds until then.

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