Tuesday 22 January 2019

Nicola Anderson: Defence frustrations apparent as prosecution concludes case

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.

Nicola Anderson in Belfast

The prosecution case ended rather abruptly, with the rigorous probing by the defence of the chief police officers over how the case had been conducted.

Certain frustrations for the defence were highlighted by lawyers for the young men in the dock. These included "significant inconsistencies" in the accounts given by the alleged victim, the fact that police had neglected to gather the evidence of the clothing worn by Stuart Olding on the night, as well as their failure to obtain Blane McIlroy's clothes.

It was a day in which some light was shed, though little fresh information emerged, and, largely, it made for dull hearing - broken only by the ghostly moan of the gusting wind in the court's roof structure.

The detective second in command of the investigation was back in the witness box, being cross-examined by Frank O'Donoghue, QC for Olding.

He put it to her that it would be considered "important" for the investigating officer to gather the clothing that the complainant had alleged that Mr Olding was wearing on the night.

"Yes," she agreed.

By obtaining the clothing, it could be gathered if there was "cross-contamination of their DNA", or evidence of semen, he continued.

"Yes, although Mr Olding had said he had ejaculated so the likelihood is that it would've been on his clothing anyway," the detective reasoned.

"You're making an assumption ... you're conducting an investigation," Mr O'Dohoghue stated.

He asked her if the "blue shirt" worn by Mr Olding on the night had ever been gathered.

"I believe it was looked for at the scene, but it wasn't found," she told him.

That brought Mr O'Donoghue neatly on to another point.

When Mr Olding was asked to come to the police station and his interview finished, he had been arrested, detained and his keys taken from him, he said.

"Was a decision made to search his house using his own keys?" he asked, later adding that his client had not known this would happen.

The detective explained that this might have been "because there is always (the) possibility someone could remove items".

Asked about Mr McIlroy's clothing, she replied that they had attempted to retrieve it - but it had already been washed.

Put to her that there had been "significant inconsistencies" between what the complainant had told the centre for sexual assault and what she had told the police, the detective conceded there were - but this could be down to trauma, mistake or fragmented memory, she said.

Irish Independent

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