Saturday 14 December 2019

Rape trial to finish on time despite delays - judge

Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA
Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA

Lesley Anne McKeown

The rape trial of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players is on track despite delays, a judge has said.

Adjourning the high-profile case because of a sick juror, Judge Patricia Smyth told Belfast Crown Court: "We have a very clear picture of what work is remaining. We are on track to finish within the timescale."

Last week, the court heard the trial was expected to conclude by mid-March. Addressing the jury panel, Judge Smyth added: "I want to reassure you because we had lost some days due to illness."

Paddy Jackson (26), from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and his Ulster teammate Stuart Olding (24), from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a party in Jackson's home during the early hours of June 28, 2016.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Two other men have also been returned for trial on charges connected with the alleged incident.

Blane McIlroy (26), from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, has pleaded not guilty to exposure, while Rory Harrison (25), from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Judge Smyth said she was "confident" the jury would sit today. The case continues.

Irish Independent

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