Monday 20 August 2018

Rugby rape trial: Court hears from woman who walked into room during alleged rape

Paddy Jackson. Picture: Alan Lewis/PhotopressBelfast.co.uk
Paddy Jackson. Picture: Alan Lewis/PhotopressBelfast.co.uk

Ashleigh McDonald

A young woman who attended an afterparty at rugby player Paddy Jackson's home said today she "walked in on a threesome."

The woman went back to Jackson's Oakleigh Park home in south Belfast in the early hours of Tuesday June 28, 2016 with two friends.

Also attending the afterparty was Jackson's teammate Stuart Olding (24) and friends Rory Harrison (25) and Blane McIlroy (26), as well as the woman who claimed she was raped in Jackson's bedroom.

Giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court, the witness was asked what she saw when she opened the door.

Ulster and Ireland rugby player Stuart Olding pictured as he arrives at Laganside court for his trial where he and teammate Paddy Jackson are standing after being accused of raping the same woman in Belfast in June 2016.
Ulster and Ireland rugby player Stuart Olding pictured as he arrives at Laganside court for his trial where he and teammate Paddy Jackson are standing after being accused of raping the same woman in Belfast in June 2016.

Explaining that her and her friend were ready to leave the party at around 4am, and were trying to locate their other friend, the witness said she heard "moaning" coming from a bedroom, thought her friend was in the room, and so opened the door.

From the witness box, she told the court she closed the door, turned to her friend and said "I have just seen a threesome".

The woman was asked about a statement she gave to police in September 2016 about what she had seen.

Revealing the door was open for less than a minute, she told police 'I would not say that the female was distressed.'

When asked by Brendan Kelly QC, the barrister representing, "I presume that remains your recollection", she replied "100pc".

Confirming to Mr Kelly that she saw no signs of the woman in distress, and that she didn't think she had just witnessed a rape, the woman said: "I remember kind of laughing and telling (my friend) I had just walked in on a threesome."

And when asked by Mr Kelly "did you have any concern when you left the room?", she answered "no."

She was also asked by Jackson's barrister if she understood the term 'frozen in fear', to which she replied "you can't move because you are so scared." Mr Kelly then asked if she felt the woman was "frozen in fear when you stood watching her on the bed?" She again said "no."

Rory Harrison has been charged with, and denies, perverting the course of justice. Photo: PA
Rory Harrison has been charged with, and denies, perverting the course of justice. Photo: PA

Also giving evidence were two of her friends who also attended the afterparty.

One who stayed overnight told Jackson the next morning that her friend had walked in on a threesome, to which Jackson shook his head and said it didn't happen.

After having too much to drink and feeling tired, the woman stayed in an upstairs room in Jackson's home while her two friends left in a taxi around 4.25am.

She said she woke up on a sofa the next morning with Stuart Olding lying beside her, and after retrieving her phone, she called her friend.

When asked about the conversation she had with her friend that morning, the woman said her friend told her she had walked into a bedroom and saw people having sex.

She said she told Jackson that morning about what her friend told her about a threesome. And when asked how Jackson reacted, she said: "He just shook his head and just said 'no, that didn't happen.'

"I thought he knew what I was talking about, but because he shook his head, I didn't pursue it any further."

Blane McIlroy. Photo: PA
Blane McIlroy. Photo: PA

She said that after vomiting at the party, she went to bed. She also confirmed that nothing physical occurred between herself and Olding, as she didn't know he was lying beside her until she woke up at around 9.30am.

When asked about the party she attended, she described it as "all quite innocent fun." Telling the court she had never met the woman who also attended the party and who claimed she was raped that night by Jackson and Olding, she described her as "quite nice ... quiet."

Also giving evidence was another young woman who attended the party with her two friends.

This witness said she went upstairs with a third woman to look for their friend so they could all go home.

She said that as she and her friend were walking up the stairs to look for their other friend "we could hear some type of noises coming from a room." She said her friend opened the door then closed it again after a few seconds.

When asked what her friend saw in the bedroom, the witness said "she said in a joking way "Oh my God, I have just seen a threesome."'

When asked to elaborate, she said her friend told her it involved Jackson, Olding and the woman at the centre of the claims. The witness added: "She (her friend) said Paddy had joked about joining in."

When she was asked by Jackson's barrister, Brendan Kelly QC, that when they went back down the stairs "did you have any concern as to what was going on in that bedroom?", the woman replied "no."

She was also asked about leaving her friend in the house overnight. She said that after looking for their friend, the two women went back downstairs and called a taxi.

She was asked if they had "any concern" about leaving their friend in the house, to which she replied: "No, we felt safe the whole time". And when asked if she "feared" for her friend's safety, she said "no, definitely not."

Paddy Jackson from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, denies raping a woman - who cannot be named for legal reasons - in June 2016.

He also denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Stuart Olding, from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, also denies raping the same woman.

Two others have been charged in connection with the same alleged incident.

Blane McIlroy from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, denies exposure.

Rory Harrison from Manse Road in Belfast, also denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

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