Tuesday 17 July 2018

Rugby rape trial: Texts between alleged victim and Rory Harrison heard as accuser says she has 'no complaint' against him

Rory Harrison
Rory Harrison

Ashleigh McDonald

A woman at the centre of a rape trial in Belfast today revealed she had "absolutely no complaint" with one of four men who attended an afterparty at Paddy Jackson's home.

Rory Harrison has been charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information in the aftermath of an alleged rape in Jackson's south Belfast home in June 2016.

The 25-year old, from Manse Road in Belfast, denies the charges.

As she continued being cross-examined at Belfast Crown Court, the 21-year old woman said she had "absolutely no complaint" with Harrison, telling the court and jury: "He took me home and I'm grateful for that."

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

The woman, who cannot be named and who appeared in court behind a screen, told Harrison's barrister, Gavan Duffy QC, that she felt Harrison's actions in the aftermath of the alleged sex attack were "quite genuine."

Following a night out at Ollie's nightclub, Harrison went back to Jackson's Oakleigh Park home, along with Jackson's teammate Stuart Olding (24) from Ardenlee Street and 26-year old Blane McIlroy. Also attending the same afterparty was the complainant, as well as three other young woman.

Jackson (26) and Olding have both been accused of, and deny, raping the then 19-year old in the early hours of June 28, 2016, while McIlroy, from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, has been charged with, and also denies, one count of exposure.

The jury of nine men and three women have already heard that Harrison took the woman home in a taxi after the alleged rape, and sent her several messages in the following hours.

Under cross-examination from Mr Duffy QC, the woman agreed that Harrison had done "absolutely nothing wrong". She also confirmed that Harrison had comforted her on the way home in the taxi when she was extremely upset."

After ensuring she got home at around 5.15am, Harrison sent the woman a text telling her "keep the chin up you wonderful young woman" to which she replied: "Thank you so much for leaving me home, I really appreciate it Rory, you've been far too kind."

Stuart Olding. Picture: Alan Lewis/PhotopressBelfast.co.uk
Stuart Olding. Picture: Alan Lewis/PhotopressBelfast.co.uk

And when Harrison texted her around noon, asking is she was feeling better, she texted back: "To be honest, no. I know you must be mates with those guys but I don't like them. And what happened was not consensual, which is why I was so upset. Again, thank you for taking me home. That was really appreciated."

For the first time in the trial, the court heard that Harrison's response to that text was "Jesus." He sent her another text shortly afterwards, which said "I am not sure what to say."

When Mr Duffy asked the woman that this text would have given an impression this came as "something of a surprise" to Harrison, she answered: "It would seem to appear that way, yes."

She was also asked by Mr Duffy about a text she sent to her friend at 10.41am in the context of leaving the house with Harrison, which said 'it wasn't a get her out of the house now she is kicking off sort of thing".

She told Mr Duffy "I believe Mr Harrison's actions were quite genuine."

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