Wednesday 12 December 2018

Rugby rape case: Accuser branded a 'silly girl' in group message

Police 'went straight to' Ulster rugby coach over rape claim, court told 

Stuart Olding Picture: PA
Stuart Olding Picture: PA
Blaine McIlroy
Paddy Jackson Photo: Michael Cooper/PA Wire
Rory Harrison Photo: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Lesley-Anne McKeown

Police "went straight to" rugby coach Les Kiss when claims of rape emerged against two Ulster Rugby players, a court heard.

A series of text and WhatsApp communications were read into the record at Belfast Crown Court, where Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are standing trial for rape.

For the first time, the court heard claims that the PSNI spoke to Ulster Rugby early in the investigation.

This sparked claims in the text exchanges that "there could be a law-suit in that".

Meanwhile, the woman who has accused the two Ireland rugby players of rape was branded a "silly girl" who was "causing trouble for the lads" in messages exchanged among the friends.

Prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC said the messages formed part of a timeline of agreed facts.

In one exchange on June 30, 2016, Rory Harrison expressed hope the case against his friends could be dismissed.

He said: "Hopefully it's just thrown out. Just a silly girl who's done something then regretted it."

"Yeah, surely it will be."

"I know but she's causing so much trouble for the lads."

"Yeah mate, if that got out like. The other thing is the cops went straight to Les Kiss [the then Ulster Rugby coach] which is f***ing ridiculous."

Blane McIlroy said: "Yeah, surely the cops can't disclose that to Les Kiss."

Mr Harrison said: "There could be a law-suit in that if it [is] just dismissed. Although you are drawing attention to it, I suppose."

Another message, the court heard, revealed: "When Les rang Jacko, Bryn [Cunningham, Ulster Rugby operations director] called Stu. Just go straight to the station."

Mr Jackson (26), from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and Mr Olding (24), from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016.

Mr Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Mr McIlroy (26), from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, denies one count of exposure, while Mr Harrison (25), from Manse Road in Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The alleged rape is claimed to have taken place during an after-party at Jackson's home during the early hours of June 28, 2016.

The 11-person jury panel was told one of the WhatsApp groups was named "Jacome" while another was called "The Juicers".

In a message to The Juicers the next day, Mr McIlroy posted a picture of himself and three girls, captioned: "Love Belfast sluts".

In another message, Mr McIlroy boasted to a friend: "Pumped a bird with Jacko on Monday, roasted her, then another on Tuesday night."

Earlier, the court had been told about communication between Mr Olding and an unnamed friend.

When asked "how was she?", he wrote: "She was very, very loose."

The friend also asked: "Any sluts get f*****?"

To which Mr Olding replied: "Precious secrets."

Later the same morning, Mr Olding wrote on the Jacome WhatsApp group: "We are all top shaggers. There was a bit of spit roasting going on last night fellas."

Mr Jackson added: "There was a lot of spit roast last night."

Mr Olding wrote: "It was like a merry-go-round at the carnival."

'Hilarious'

The day after the alleged attack, Mr Harrison wrote to Mr McIlroy: "Mate the scenes last night were hilarious.

"Walked upstairs and there were more flutes than July 12."

Separate messages exchanged between the complainant and her friends were also read to the court.

When asked if she told her alleged attackers to stop, she wrote: "Of course I did but they were too strong."

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Smyth who repeated warnings for jurors not to discuss the evidence.

She said: "You have been a wonderful jury. Even if it is tempting, do not discuss it. It is your view that counts, no-one else's."

Irish Independent

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