Monday 22 October 2018

Rugby rape trial: Paddy Jackson is 'last person in the world who would rape someone', friend says

  • Rory Harrison, accused of attempting to cover up alleged rape, takes stand
  • Case heard for three hours on Saturday morning
Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Laganside courts. Picture: Getty
Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Laganside courts. Picture: Getty

Eimear Cotter

A FRIEND of Paddy Jackson, who is accused of raping a young student at a house party, has said that the Irish rugby star is “the last person in the world who would rape someone”.

Rory Harrison (25) has denied that he “tried to cover up or manage” the then 19-year-old who student who says she was raped by both Mr Jackson and his teammate Stuart Olding.

Rory Harrison. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images
Rory Harrison. Photo: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Mr Harrison has denied perverting the course of justice and withholding information relating to the incident in June 2016.

In his evidence in a special sitting of Belfast Crown Court on Saturday morning, Mr Harrison said he was “shocked” when he received a text from the alleged victim thanking him for bringing her home and telling him that “what happened last night was not consensual”.

Asked by his lawyer Gavan Duffy QC what he thought about this, Mr Harrison said his initial reaction was shock.

“My initial reaction was shock that something had happened that she didn’t consent to. But the more I thought about it, Patrick Jackson is the last person in the world who would rape someone. I thought that she’d done something and regretted it.”

From left to right, Ireland and Ulster player Paddy Jackson, 26, his team-mate Stuart Olding, 24, and third defendant Blane McIlroy, 26
From left to right, Ireland and Ulster player Paddy Jackson, 26, his team-mate Stuart Olding, 24, and third defendant Blane McIlroy, 26

He said he had seen the young woman stare at Mr Jackson during the party.

Mr Harrison said he had not paid much attention to the young woman, but he had thought the staring was a bit longer than what would be normal.

About an hour into the house party, Mr Harrison saw Mr Jackson go upstairs. He thought he was going to bed. He said he noticed the woman follow him.

“After I’d seen her staring at him, it made me think that she was following him”, he said.

Sometime later Mr Harrison noticed that another woman was not in the living room, and he had thought she had gone upstairs with Mr Olding, but he “wasn’t certain”.

Mr Harrison subsequently decided to go home. He said he went upstairs to say goodbye to Mr Jackson, and he walked past the alleged victim at the top of the stairs. He said she “wasn’t unclothed or I would have noticed”.

He stuck his head into Mr Jackson’s bedroom. He was in bed, naked, and half awake. Mr Harrison said he may have grumbled something like “see you later”.

He said he put his head into another room and saw Mr Olding and a woman asleep on a L-shaped sofa. They were fully clothed. He thought that they had “possibly had some sexual activity”.

Mr Harrison said he went back down into the living room and the alleged victim came in. She seemed quiet, and he offered to bring her home.

They walked out to the main road to get a taxi.

He said the woman was upset and was crying.

Mr Harrison said he brought her home, and walked her up her driveway.

He then got the taxi home. He also sent her a text, saying “keep your chin up, you wonderful young woman”.

Mr Harrison was asked why he thought the woman was upset and he said he thought she might have been rejected by Mr Jackson.

He was asked if he believed or thought at this point that the woman had been involved in non-consensual sexual activity.

“No, I did not”, he said.

It was only later that day, some time after 12 noon, that Mr Harrison received a text from the woman claiming that what had happened in the early hours of that morning was not consensual.

The men met at Soul Food some time before 2pm for lunch.

“Did you not tell Mr Jackson about the text message?, asked Mr Duffy.

“No, I didn’t”, Mr Harrison replied.

“Why not?

“Because I didn’t believe it and I did not want to worry him about something that I’d no faith was true”, Mr Harrison said.

He was also asked if he told Mr Olding about the message.

“Why would I”, he responded.

“Did you not think the text related to Mr Olding”, the lawyer asked.

“No, I didn’t”.

Mr Duffy asked Mr Harrison if he had seen a rape happen.

“No”.

“Did you believe a rape had happened?

“No”, he said.

“What there any attempt to cover-up what had happened”, Mr Duffy asked him.

“No, there wasn’t.”

He was asked if there was a conspiracy to concoct a story

“No, there wasn’t”, he said.

Were you trying in any way to impede the investigation or conceal anything”, Mr Duffy asked.

“No, I wasn’t”, he said, adding that he had answered honestly all questions from the police.

Mr Jackson (26), of Oakleigh Park, Belfast has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault at a party in his house in the early hours of June 28, 2016.

Mr Olding (24), of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, denies one count of rape on the same occasion. Both men contend the activity was consensual.

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

The trial continues before Judge Patricia Smyth and a jury of eight men and three women

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