Wednesday 23 January 2019

'Why didn't she scream? There were lots of girls downstairs who weren't going to tolerate a rape'

Stuart Olding
Stuart Olding
Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA

Nicola Anderson in Belfast

'There were a lot of middle-class girls downstairs - they weren't going to tolerate a rape or anything like that," Stuart Olding's barrister assured the jury.

Frank O'Donoghue QC had, as it turned out, many questions he would have liked the police to have asked the alleged victim at the heart of this trial: "No matter how uncomfortable the complainant may have been."

He would have asked "a lot more detail" about the oral rape with which his client is charged. He would have asked why she was unable to resist, why did she not say no?

"Why did she open her mouth - why didn't she keep her mouth closed?" he said.

"Why didn't she scream - the house was occupied. There were a lot of middle-class girls downstairs - they weren't going to tolerate a rape or anything like that."

Mr O'Donoghue continued with a stream of similar questions, while in the box, his client drained a plastic glass of water.

In the wake of Ireland's euphoric Grand Slam triumph over the weekend, the atmosphere in Courtroom 12 seemed even more drearily despondent, more torpid than ever before.

From the defendants and their families to the counsel and the jury, all bore visible signs of fatigue.

This is week eight of the trial - which now looks certain to continue into at least next week, with Judge Patricia Smyth telling the jury she will begin her direction to them on Friday.

Mr O'Donoghue told of how once the police had finished interviewing the complainant, the first thing they did was not to contact Mr Olding directly, but to arrive at Ravenhill - the home of Ulster Rugby - to speak directly to his employers and to inform them to tell Mr Olding to go directly to the police station.

"That phone call was a very rude awakening for him," Mr O'Donoghue confided to the jury.

He described his client as a "reliable historian" - notwithstanding the large volume of drink he had consumed that night.

Here, he reiterated what Mr Olding had consumed.

The eight cans of Carlsberg, the four pints of Guinness, the two gin and tonics, the five vodka lemonades and the three shots.

He pointed to the fact that Mr Olding had readily given his alcohol intake to the police.

"That sounds like a really good conspiracy doesn't it," he said to the jury wryly.

"That's some conspiracy," he repeated.

In the afternoon, Arthur Harvey for Blane McIlroy similarly gave his account to the jury of why his client should be acquitted.

"In closing this case the prosecution invited you to determine 'lads or legends' - but that's not the question you have to answer," he said, adding: "They may be either, neither or both."

Nothing could restore the last 20 months of his client's life, he claimed - saying he had never been in trouble before.

He claimed his client had told the truth to the police because why would he lie?

In speaking of the complainant, Mr Harvey recalled the protagonist of Leo Tolstoy's novel 'Anna Karenina' who, to justify her affair, denigrated her husband by telling "so many lies" about him.

"The first lie is saving face. But the first lie is when you begin on the path to self-deception," he claimed.

As he finished, an elderly couple in the public gallery applauded shockingly amid the silence of the courtroom.

Irish Independent

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