Tuesday 19 March 2019

Rape charge against rugby star Olding dropped

Stuart Olding
Stuart Olding

Ashleigh MacDonald

One of two rape charges against Irish rugby international Stuart Olding has been dropped after it emerged "no evidence" is being offered by the prosecution.

On the direction of Judge Patricia Smyth, a statement was issued at Belfast Crown Court following an agreement between the State and Olding's legal team.

The 24-year-old, from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, had initially been charged with two counts of rape, which he has denied. Olding will now be acquitted of one of the two charges.

The agreed statement said: "The prosecution have today confirmed that they will no longer be proceeding with the charge of vaginal rape against Stuart Olding. No evidence will now be offered by the prosecution in respect of this charge, and Mr Olding will be acquitted of this count of rape.

"The prosecution acknowledges that Mr Olding always denied the offence of vaginal rape and challenged the adequacy of the evidence against him in respect of this charge at two hearings during 2017, which the prosecution successfully opposed on the basis of the forensic evidence that the prosecution obtained at that time.

"The prosecution is not proceeding with this count as a result of additional forensic evidence now available. Had that evidence been available at an earlier stage, the vaginal rape charge would not have been brought against Mr Olding at any time.

"The prosecution is proceeding with the remaining count of oral rape against Mr Olding."

Olding will be standing trial at the end of January, alongside Ireland and Ulster team-mate Paddy Jackson (25), of Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and two other co-accused.

Jackson has been charged with, and has denied, raping the same complainant and sexually assaulting her in Belfast on June 28 last year.

Irish Independent

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