Friday 20 April 2018

'There is no case here' - Stuart Olding's defence barrister tells court

Stuart Olding Photo: PA
Stuart Olding Photo: PA

Lesley-Anne McKeown

Evidence presented in the rape trial of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players does not come close to proving the guilt of Stuart Olding, his defence barrister has told a court.

In his closing submission, Frank O'Donoghue QC said the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.

He said: "It does not come remotely near the required standard to render you sure that Stuart Olding orally raped the complainant in June 2016."

Directing his remarks towards the jury of eight men and three women at Belfast Crown Court, Mr O'Donoghue also warned they must decide the case on reliability of evidence, not the credibility of the complainant.

"If, on the evidence, you cannot be sure, then it is your duty to acquit.

"We, the court, the jury, must never be party to any miscarriage of justice. We must avoid that at all costs."

Olding, 25, from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, denies raping a woman at a house party in June 2016.

His team-mate, Paddy Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park in the city, also denies rape and sexual assault.

Two others are also charged with offences connected to the alleged rape.

Blane McIlory, 26, from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, denies exposure, while Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The prosecution allege that Olding forced the woman to perform oral sex, the court was told.

However Mr O'Donoghue suggested: "Mr Olding has made the case that the act was entirely consensual. That he never pulled her head.

"That the proof of the fact that it was consensual can be taken from the body positions that they adopted, the duration of the act, the fact that she interrupted the act before recommencing, that she brought him to the point of ejaculation and he told her he was going to ejaculate."

The lawyer invited jurors to "study the evidence" in order to "root out" inconsistencies.

He said: "Do not judge the book by its cover. Do not assume that because an account appears plausible it must therefore be true."

Mr O'Donoghue told jurors there were more than a dozen questions police should have asked.

"Why did she not say no?" he said. "Why did she open her mouth? Why didn't she scream? A lot of middle class girls were downstairs, they were not going to tolerate a rape or anything like that. Why didn't she scream the house down."

The lawyer told the court that when the evidence is studied it demonstrates that the woman has "no reliable memory" of being forced to perform oral sex.

The barrister added: "I am asking you to get down and dirty as far as all the evidence is concerned. To roll up your sleeves."

The police investigation was flawed, the barrister suggested.

He put it to the jury: "You have an ABE interview devoid of detail on the allegation that was an assumption of force. And a police force that never truly studied what's being said and what questions needed to be asked. If you look at the evidence in chief it is of necessity completely devoid of relevant and essential detail."

He also said it was of "hopeless quality".

He said the investigation of the woman's allegations against Olding was "at best poor" and "at worst, virtually non existent".

Olding has told the truth and is a reliable, credible witness, his defence counsel told Belfast Crown Court.

Mr O'Dononghue claimed the account provided to police and to the court during the high-profile rape trial "proves" his innocence.

The lawyer said: "He has never shied away from telling anyone who would listen what happened.

"He has undoubtedly told the truth, warts and all."

Mr O'Dononghue urged the jury to "do justice" in the case and acquit Olding.

Drawing his statement to a close after about two hours, he said his client "welcomed" the chance to be heard by a jury.

"Finally, that someone might listen to him and decide what he told was the truth, warts and all.

"The reality is there was no rape by Stuart Olding. There is no case here.

"There was no force used. There was consent on both sides at that time. Perhaps a matter of regret now, to all parties, but such is life.

"Stuart Olding is innocent in this charge. I implore you to do your duty."

The case continues.

Press Association

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