Monday 19 March 2018

Rugby star says alleged rape was 'consensual' and denies 'cover-up'

Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA
Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA

Eimear Cotter

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding has denied that he and his friends engaged in a "cover-up" about what happened on the night a young student claimed she was raped by him and his teammate Paddy Jackson.

Mr Olding (24) claimed that everything that happened that night was "completely consensual". He accepted that when he left Ollie's nightclub and headed to Mr Jackson's house that he was "pretty drunk". However, he said he was "still coherent" and "knew my whereabouts".

The jury heard Mr Olding had consumed eight cans of beer, four pints, two gin and tonics, five vodka and lemonades, and three shots.

Mr Olding (24), of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, agreed that this sounded like he'd had a lot to drink.

The Ulster player is alleged, alongside Mr Jackson (26), of Oakleigh Park, Belfast, to have raped a then 19-year-old student in a bedroom during a house party at Mr Jackson's home after a night out in Belfast on June 28, 2016. Both men have denied the charge.

Mr Jackson has also pleaded not guilty to one count of sexual assault.

Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA
Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA

Mr Olding took the stand in Belfast yesterday and denied he forced the woman to perform a sex act on him in Mr Jackson's bed. Mr Olding said nothing happened in Mr Jackson's bedroom that made him think the alleged victim had not consented to what had taken place.

"If I thought that [she had not consented], nothing would have happened. Nothing would have started and nothing would have continued," he said.

When asked by his lawyer, Frank O'Donoghue QC, if he had forced the alleged victim to perform a sex act on him, Mr Olding replied: "I didn't force her in any way."

Mr Olding said that when he walked into Mr Jackson's bedroom, he saw Paddy and the woman "kissing on the bed".

Mr Jackson was on his back, with his shirt off, and the woman was on top of him. He stood at the door and turned to leave. He claimed the woman turned around and held out her hand as an invitation to stay.

The court heard Mr Olding closed the door and started kissing the alleged victim. Mr Olding said he then lay down on the bed, and the woman was kneeling over him and she performed oral sex on him.

Asked by Mr O'Donoghue if he believed the woman had shown any reluctance to perform the sex act, Mr Olding replied: "Not at all."

Mr O'Donoghue said the complainant told police that she was unsure if Mr Olding had had penetrative sex with her from behind. He denied this.

The jury also heard that Mr Olding was embarrassed and "not proud" of a series of text messages he sent boasting about his sexual activity with the woman.

Mr O'Donoghue asked him about texts between him and a friend in the hours after the alleged rape. Mr Olding wrote: "We are all top shaggers." He said this was a reference to the night before and was "just immature boasting to my friends".

Another text from him read: "There was a bit of spit roasting going on." Mr Olding said this was a slang term for a threesome. It could mean a woman in between two men and "sexual activity happening," he said.

In cross-examination, Toby Hedworth QC put it to Mr Olding: "If you had that amount of drink, there's a danger of disregarding the wishes or views of another person if they get in the way of what you want to achieve." Mr Olding replied: "I wouldn't agree with that."

He accepted that a 19-year-old woman would not have been a match for two professional rugby players if she had decided to resist. "If she'd resisted or not wanted it I'd have had no problem with that. I wouldn't have carried on."

Mr Hedworth said it was "an extraordinary state of affairs" that Mr Olding could remember "a tender moment" of touching the woman's face but could not recall how he and the woman had moved from kissing to oral sex.

Irish Independent

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