Tuesday 11 December 2018

'We didn't discuss it' - Paddy Jackson denies 'concocting' story after night of alleged attack

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he and his teammate Stuart Olding are on trial accused of raping a woman at a property in south Belfast in June 2016. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he and his teammate Stuart Olding are on trial accused of raping a woman at a property in south Belfast in June 2016. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Lesley-Anne McKeown

Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson has taken the stand on the opening day of the defence case at his rape trial in Belfast.

The 26-year-old, who denies raping a woman at a house party in south Belfast in 2016, told Belfast Crown Court he was not a violent person and had never thrown a punch.

He said: "I have never been in a fight before. I am not an aggressive person."

Jackson denies rape and sexual assault during an incident in June 2016.

Three other men charged in connection with the same incident also deny the charges against them.

Jackson said he was excited but also felt pressure to represent Ireland in South Africa in April 2016.

"I was very excited but also felt a lot of pressure. This was a big opportunity for me so there was a lot of nerves.

"I felt a lot of pressure going into it. This was my chance. Rugby is my passion. I saw it as my chance to put my name on the big stage."

He told the court on the team's last day in South Africa they relaxed by the pool and had a few drinks.

"We had the whole day sitting by the pool having a few drinks before we flew home. I would have been a bit drunk but it was more sitting in the sun and relaxing."

They flew home to Dublin that night.

Jackson said that, when he arrived back in Belfast, he dropped his bags at home and then went to Cutters Wharf bar to watch the football and have a few drinks.

"It was very casual. Really just watching the football and chatting. We then went to Ollies (nightclub)".

He told the court that from time to time he would be approached by people he did not know.

"It happened quite a lot. I just took the time if they want to talk to me, be polite. If they want a picture or have a chat I try to do that," he said.

Jackson told the court that after the nightclub he went home with his friends and three girls, who he did not know.

"The guys would always go back to my house after a night out. I didn't know the girls in the cab."

He said in his house music was playing.

"It was very relaxed," he said.

Jackson told the court he remembered smiling at the alleged victim.

"She was looking at me. I didn't think it was strange at the time.

"We were flirting with each other. If I went to the kitchen she followed me. It seemed normal. It was very much flirting between both of us."

He said he got the impression that she liked him.

"It was nice. I liked her back. I went upstairs. I remember part of me thinking she might follow me upstairs. She did".

Jackson said the pair kissed "passionately" on the edge of the bed until the alleged victim pulled away and asked if he knew her name.

"I didn't know her name. It was a bit embarrassing at the time. I got up and went downstairs. I wanted to be back in the party."

Jackson said back upstairs he and the female began to kiss.

"It was quite passionate. We were both kissing each other. It got a bit more passionate. When I was lying on the bed (she) was on top of me. She started to bite my lower lip. It was playful but pretty hard."

He claimed the woman then performed oral sex on him. Olding then walked in he said.

"It was a bit embarrassing. I kind of smiled at him and waved at him. It was a bit stupid, kind of 'hi, look what's happening," he said.

Jackson said that Olding then came over.

"There was an interaction between them. Her attention went from me to Stuart. She performed oral sex on Stuart," he said.

Jackson said that as the woman performed a sexual act on Olding he pulled her trousers down to her thighs.

"I then started to touch her with my hands," he said.

He told the court that there was no penile intercourse because he could not find a condom.

"She asked for a condom. I looked in the bedside wardrobe and couldn't find one ... I continued to touch her with my hands," he said.

After Olding left the room Jackson said he and the woman lay in bed together.

"We lay in bed together. I presumed she would be staying the night. I was drunk, tired and I was so happy to be in my own bed. I think I may have fallen asleep," he said.

Jackson said he then saw the female getting dressed.

"It was getting light. She was at the bottom of the bed. I saw her getting dressed. I got up and pulled on some sweats. We said something to each other. I can't remember what.

"I assume I said 'Are you leaving?'"

When asked if he had known the alleged victim was upset leaving his house he said: "If I had seen she was upset I would have gone and checked on her. I didn't see her upset.

"The last thing I want is a girl crying leaving my house. I would have freaked out. The last thing I ever want is anyone leaving my house upset.

"I went to bed and had no idea she was upset."

Jackson said he was in a cafe with Olding two days after the alleged attack when the then Ulster Rugby head coach Les Kiss phoned him and the Ulster Rugby manager Bryn Cunningham phoned Olding and advised them to go to the police station.

"(Les Kiss) said 'Paddy, the police are here, you need to go to Musgrave Police Station. My heart sank. I didn't know what was going on. Stuart looked shocked as well.

"Les called me again. He said 'have you left yet?' I said 'do you have any idea what this is about? I'm freaking out.' He said 'I don't know. It sounds grave.

"I was in shock. I was just going through the motions to the station. On the way I had no idea as to why the police wanted to (speak to me)."

He added that at the time he thought the sexual activity with the woman "was good".

"Now I don't ever want to be involved in anything like this again," he added.

Under cross-examination, Jackson denied "concocting a story" with his co-accused after the alleged attack in case an allegation of rape was made.

"No, that did not happen," he said.

Prosecution barrister Toby Hedworth QC asked Jackson: "You ended up back at your house with four attractive young women. Did you have any expectation of what the night would have in store with these attractive young women?"

Jackson responded: "No I didn't."

Referring to group WhatsApp messages between Jackson and some friends after the alleged attack Mr Hedworth said: "There had been an anticipation that this was going to be a frisky night."

Jackson denied playing games with the alleged victim when he said he went upstairs and thought she might follow him, the court heard.

The prosecution said to him: "You thought you would play these interesting cat and mouse games?"

Jackson responded: "I wasn't playing a game."

He was asked: "That young woman went upstairs and you followed her didn't you?"

Jackson replied: "No"

He was then asked: "Did you think this time 'I'm not going to take no for an answer?'."

He replied: "No I didn't."

Jackson denied penetrating his alleged victim with his penis.

"The reality is you penetrated (her) with your penis," the prosecution said.

"No I didn't," he replied.

"From behind," the prosecution said.

"No," responded Jackson.

He was asked: "You resisted that temptation not to put your penis inside her?"

"Yes," he replied.

"Not withstanding you had drink taken, you were showing complete restraint?" the prosecution asked.

"Yes", he said.

Jackson insisted he had not been told by his friends that the alleged victim had been upset in a taxi on her way home with Rory Harrison.

"It wasn't discussed? The fact she had been in hysterics and it wasn't going to end well?" the prosecution asked him.

He responded: "No. They didn't say to me."

The prosecution asked: "It wasn't discussed that she had said whatever happened wasn't consensual?"

He responded: "No, that wasn't mentioned."

The prosecution said: "I suggest to you that's just a downright lie."

Jackson replied: "It wasn't discussed."

Jackson was accused of pushing his alleged victim beyond what she wanted to do.

"You just pushed and pushed beyond what that young woman wanted to do," the prosecution said.

Jackson replied: "Do you think with my friends we discussed raping someone?"

The prosecution answered: "I think you and your friends were hoping for a very good night. You were hoping (it) would end with having sex with someone."

Jackson responded: "The night happened the way it did and I woke up happy and happy with what happened."

When asked what he would have done had he thought the woman did not believe what happened between them had been consensual, he said: "I would have done everything I could to find out why. I would have contacted her or the police."

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