Saturday 17 March 2018

Nicola Anderson: Complicated jigsaw was assembled from busy chatter on men's mobile phones

Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson are accused of raping the woman in June 2016. Both deny the charges.
Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson are accused of raping the woman in June 2016. Both deny the charges.
Stock picture: Getty
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

At the start of this trial, much had been made of the 'timeline' and the painstaking preparation being done on it.

Its importance became apparent in terms of establishing some 'agreed facts', which were put before the jury.

A complicated jigsaw assembled from the busy chatter obtained from the mobile phones of the young men at the centre of this trial in the aftermath of the alleged rape was part of this.

Read aloud by Toby Hedworth, QC for the prosecution, it built a compelling picture of what was going on that day - even down to the superficial fact that Rory Harrison had to collect his family dog from the groomers and so had to take an early leave from the lunch with Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and Blane McIlroy at Soul Food.

Most interesting, however, were the layers of dialogue that were humming along on various channels, occasionally intersecting.

The first activity that day had been at 9.13am, with WhatsApp messages between Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding - but the contents were 'not available'.

Some 38 minutes later, the alleged victim was sending a distraught-sounding text message to a friend at 9.51am, confiding that she been raped, with a similar text message to another friend at 10.08am.

Two minutes later, at 10.10am, a friend of Mr Olding's had texted him, asking: "How was she?"

A series of WhatsApp messages on the 'Jacome' friends group later that morning discussed the night.

Sandwiched between the revelations of a "spit roast" and the description of it being "like a merry-go-round at a carnival", had been texts simultaneously exchanged between the alleged victim and her friend.

At 12.15, the alleged victim had texted Mr Harrison telling him that what happened had "not been consensual" and he responded: "Jesus."

Some 50 minutes later, at 1.05pm, he was texting Blane McIlroy saying: "Mate, the scenes last night were hilarious." Three minutes later, Mr McIlroy posted a picture of himself with the three other girls at the party, captioned "Love Belfast Sluts" to another WhatsApp group called 'The Juicers'.

At 1.46pm, a friend on the Jacome group was inquiring: "Why are we all such legends?" with Mr McIlroy responding at 2.31pm, saying: "I know, it's ridiculous."

Some 50 minutes later, the alleged victim was texting a friend to ask him for a "huge favour", saying she needed a lift to Newry to have forensic samples taken - but he couldn't take her because he had to pick his parents up from the airport.

Irish Independent

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