Sunday 15 September 2019

Rugby players' rape trial hears alleged victim feared looking 'like a stupid little girl'

Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding arriving at Belfast's Laganside courts.
Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding arriving at Belfast's Laganside courts.

Lesley-Anne McKeown

A woman allegedly raped by two Irish international rugby stars did not want to go to the police because she did not want to end up looking like a "stupid little girl", a court has been told.

She was giving evidence for a second day at the trial of 26-year-old Paddy Jackson and his 24-year-old Ireland and Ulster team mate Stuart Olding.

Belfast Crown Court heard how the woman, who cannot be named to protect her identity, told a friend via text: "No, I do not want to get the police involved. You know how that will turn out.

"It's my word against theirs. Ulster Rugby will vouch for their good character and I'll just look like a stupid little girl."

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court this week Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court this week Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The high profile case, scheduled for five weeks, is being heard by Judge Patricia Smyth.

Jackson, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and Olding, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Two other men have also been returned for trial on charges connected with the same incident alleged to have happened at an after-party following an evening in a Belfast nightclub on June 28, 2016.

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

The woman spent most of the day answering questions from Jackson's defence barrister, Brendan Kelly QC.

Paddy Jackson. Photo: PA
Paddy Jackson. Photo: PA

He asked why she had not revealed to pals there was a potential witness to the alleged attack - another female who had walked into the room at Jackson's house where she claims to have been raped.

The lawyer said: "Why did you not tell them about the witness?"

The woman replied: "Because the whole rape had been so traumatic that was what I had focused on.

"The fact that someone had walked in was secondary."

The woman later added: "Whenever the girl walked into the room, the stage that she walked in at, she had already missed the moment that those men crossed the line.

"She had not witnessed the blatant disregard for the fact that I did not want to have sex."

The barrister also questioned why the woman had not told friends, that Olding had allegedly orally raped her.

Did she had given an incomplete account to friends, he said.

The alleged victim responded: "I just did not think it was relevant. The fact of the matter was I was raped.

"That was why I was so upset. That was why I was speaking to my friends. The fact that a girl had walked into the room wasn't the main priority."

Mr Kelly QC added: "Were you concerned that if you were to tell them they might not believe you."

To which, the girl said: "Not at all."

The jury of nine men and three women heard how the complainant attended the Brooke Advisory Clinic in Belfast on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 28, 2016 and spoke to a counsellor.

Records of the visit stated there were no marks or obvious signs of physical violence.

When asked why she had omitted information when she spoke with professionals, the woman told the court: "During the attack there were times I didn't know who was behind me.

"I am not legal. I did not realise that oral sex constituted as rape."

Mr Kelly questioned why she had not spoken about being "digitally penetrated".

The woman said: "No. To me that was not rape."

Later that day, the woman was taken to the regional rape crisis centre, the court heard.

Again, according to notes, no physical injuries were described, it was claimed.

"It that correct?" Mr Kelly said.

The woman replied: "Originally I thought I had started my period because they had been so rough.

"I did not think it constituted as a physical injury.

"I felt bruised and it was incredibly sore to walk."

Mr Kelly added: "Why not tell them: 'I think I have a bruise forming on my pelvis?'"

The woman said she had been in a distressed state and had thought any injuries would be picked up in a forensic medical examination.

"I had no broken bones or a black eye," she said. "I felt sore and tender and thought potentially I was bruised."

She later said: "This rape happened in the early hours of that morning.

"I got back to my house. I hadn't slept. I spent the day tossing and turning...

"I have not left out details on purpose."

At one point proceedings were stopped to give the woman a break.

However she was further quizzed about why she had not told medical examiners about the alleged oral rape.

Mr Kelly said: "Did you not think the doctor might be interested to know what your attacker had inserted into your vagina? Why then did you say there was no digital penetration?

"Is there any explanation?"

The woman replied: "None of this was done on purpose."

Throughout proceedings all four defendants sat alongside each other in the dock of courtroom 12 in the Laganside complex.

Jackson was dressed in a blue jacket, blue shirt and tie. He carried a notebook.

Olding was wearing a grey jack, white shirt and tie. McIlroy wore a dark suit, striped shirt and tie while Harrison was in a dark suit, white shirt and tie.

The case continues.

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