Thursday 26 April 2018

'This is not a court of morals' - defence in Belfast rape trial tells jury to try case with 'a clear head'

Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson are accused of raping the woman in June 2016. Both deny the charges.
Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson are accused of raping the woman in June 2016. Both deny the charges.
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Closing arguments in the rape trial of Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are continuing.

The prosecution has summed up their argument.

Prosecution lawyer Toby Hedworth QC said, on the night in question, a young 19-year-old went out with her friends to celebrate the end of their exams.

He said: "She ended up in the early hours of the morning back at an after party. During that party she consensually kissed a young man... this was as far as she wanted it to go.

"When that man tried to undo her trousers she made it plain she was not interested in taking matters further. That is what she was entitled to do.

"The law of this land says a young woman is allowed to say no."

Mr Hedworth told the court the law is not 'Oh well, you let me kiss you so I can force myself upon you. I, the male, shall decide how far this will go'.

He continued: "The law is not 'if my friends fancy joining in they can do as they and I please'."

Mr Hedworth told the jury: "The world has moved on. The behaviour of some has not."

He said what happened at that party was a "throwback to the days of male entitlement".

"We are not talking about MeToo and gender politics. We are talking about the conduct of some males and the first three defendants in this trial," he added.

Mr Hedworth told the court the defendants were "not interested in the view of a young woman if their passions are up and they're full of drink".

"If they want to take sexual advantage of that young woman they will do so. Her views are not sought."

He added: "If the complainant realises the power of the male is such it is easier to just comply, and that can be taken as consent.

"If she tries to complain thereafter then she's just a silly girl.

"That's not the modern world. These are not the rules of the modern world. These are not the rules of our present day society as reflected by our laws.

"I'm not talking about some agenda for radical feminism. I'm talking about proper relationships you have with each other. The sort of limits of conduct any man would expect for his daughter and sister."

Mr Hedworth told the jury the defence case is that the alleged victim "was in control of the three defendants, using each of them in turn for her own sexual gratification at the age of 19."

Referring to her evidence that after the alleged attack she wanted to get the morning after pill, Mr Hedworth said: "According to the defence nobody had sexual intercourse with this young woman... So why, if that's right, is she so anxious to get the morning after pill?"

Reminding the jury of a text from Harrison to McIlroy that said she was "just a silly girl who has done something and regretted it", Mr Hedworth said: "That's exactly what she knew would happen if she took this further."

Mr Hedworth said the prosecution was not hiding from the fact there were differences and inaccuracies in the alleged victim's account of what happened.

"We invite you to consider what state this woman must have been," he said.

"Genuine complainants, whether because of trauma, shock or confusion, can give inconsistent accounts.

"What you have to do is, having heard all the evidence, is whether or not you can be sure the central allegations before you are true.

"That's what we invite you to do," he added.

The court was told the woman did not immediately go to the police.

Mr Hedworth said that after a trip to the cinema with her friends she realised "she could not let the matter go so she makes that call to police".

He pointed out that initially she did not name the alleged attackers.

"This isn't someone going after celebrities," said Mr Hedworth.

Referring to the account of a woman who walked in on the alleged victim engaged in sexual activity with Jackson and Olding, but did not think she was being raped, Mr Hedworth said what the eyewitness was confronted with "was a complete surprise".

"And she was certainly not expecting to walk in on non-consensual activity," the lawyer added.

He also told the jury that the eyewitness only witnessed the sexual activity "for a short period of time".

He added that the eyewitness "had not seen how they had come to be involved in sexual activity in the first place."

Referring to the evidence of a taxi driver who took the woman and Harrison home, Mr Hedworth said: "(The driver) said when the police got in touch via the taxi company he knew straight away what it was in relation to."

Mr Hedworth asked the jury why the alleged victim would report a rape.

"What does this young woman seek to gain by putting herself through the ordeal? The shame, the indignity of a physical examination, going to the police reliving all this knowing what is likely to be deployed against her ... unless, of course, she is telling the truth.

"Because a woman is entitled to say no regardless of how much testosterone is kicking about."

Turning to Jackson, Mr Hedworth said that having already been told by the woman she was not interested in going further "he forced himself on her, raped her from behind before Mr Olding came in and raped her after Mr Olding came in", he said.

Referring to Olding he said he was "someone who you will recall (the woman) hadn't even spoken a word to. A person who she said 'no, please, not him too', joined in sexually assaulting her."

Mr Hedworth said both men knew it was not consensual but they "carried on regardless for their own sexual gratification".

He said that McIlroy, having been knocked back by another woman at the party, asked Jackson by text if there was a chance of a threesome.

He added that when he arrived at the bedroom door it was "the straw that broke the camel's back" for the alleged victim.

"Mr McIlroy never gets beyond exposing himself", added Mr Hedworth.

Referring to Harrison he said he was "the gallant hero of the hour but his apparent concern for (the woman) were merely weasel words".

He said Harrison was a "heartless young man who found the whole thing so amusing."

Referring to Jackson and Olding, Mr Hedworth said: "Who cares where they went to school? Who cares about what junior team they played rugby with? Who cares which academy team they played for? Who cares about their level of success on a rugby field?

"It matters not whether a prince or pauper. You are just as capable of getting yourself extremely drunk and doing something - no doubt in the cold light of day when you realise the consequences - you come to regret."

He told the jury: "A good school, a good rugby career, even an act of kindness at a bus station, counts for nothing when used to disguise the realities of what overbearing, drunk young men will do when their passions are raised and they have available to them a young woman whose own view of what's being done to her matters not.

"They knew she did not consent, but they didn't care."

Referring to a WhatsApp message between Jackson, Olding and some other friends that described them as "legends", Mr Hedworth said to the jury: "The lads. The legends. You decide".

The prosecution has concluded its summing up of evidence.

Jackson's defence lawyer Brendan Kelly QC told the jury before they can convict they must be convinced of Jackson's guilt.

He told them that the prosecution case is flawed.

"(Trying the case) is not so you can tell us what you think or how you feel having heard the evidence or what you suspect might have happened.

"That might be all very interesting to you and even others. This is not a form of public inquiry into what may or may not have happened. This is a trial and a trial by you the jury," said Mr Kelly.

He added: "This case is critically flawed by inconsistency and it's flawed by untruth. Flawed, we will submit, to its core."

Mr Kelly continued: "Consistency is the hallmark of truth. Liars deviate."

Mr Kelly told the court: "A drunken consent is still consent. Regret has no bearing on consent."

He added: "(The woman) was consenting."

Mr Kelly said: "This is not a court of morals, nor will you try this case on any emotion or sympathy.

"You may all have daughters, you may all be fathers. That is not what this case is about."

He told the jury to set aside emotion to try the case "with a clear head and an objective mind".

He referred to evidence to the court that Jackson asked another woman who walked in on the sexual activity if she wanted to join in.

"Join in on a rape?... Is it really the Crown's case that half the bed would be consenting and half not?" Mr Kelly asked."She was very forward. She was tactile and she was flirtatious.

"Paddy Jackson made those comments before he knew there was CCTV in Ollies (nightclub). But Mr Jackson came out with those particular lines. That's why we went to Ollies," said Mr Kelly.

Referring to the CCTV of the woman in Ollies, he added: "That's why we shared Ollies with you to see if what Jackson was saying... might be more reliable.

"Look at the video yourself... Does it suggest someone who was forward, someone who was tactile, someone who was flirtatious?

"Does Ollies inform you as to whether or not Jackson was telling the truth when he first talks to police.

"Ollies was not to belittle (the woman). It was to fill in some of the gaps she had forgotten."

Press Association

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