Tuesday 25 September 2018

Widow who felt compelled to volunteer as character witness tells court Rory Harrison has 'wonderful qualities'

Rory Harrison arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA
Rory Harrison arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA

Lesley-Anne McKeown

A friend of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players accused of rape has "wonderful qualities," a widow has told Belfast Crown Court.

Rory Harrison (25) from Manse Road in Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information about the alleged rape in June 2016.

Maura Cushnahan, who encountered him during a distressing situation at a Belfast bus station in 2015, said she felt it was her "duty" to give evidence on behalf of Harrison after reading about him in the press.

He had showed her "great kindness", she said.

"I know that this is just a snapshot of someone's life," Ms Cushnahan added.

"But, I can honestly say that he showed wonderful qualities...

"He came to my assistance when I needed help.

"He showed the qualities of kindness, total respect and reassurance.

"He really, to me, was a young gentleman."

Ms Cushnahan revealed she had been nursed during ill health by Harrison's mother.

She had meant to tell her about her son's kind act during subsequent medical appointments, but had forgotten.

"When I saw what had happened to Rory in the media, I felt it was my duty to tell his mother he was so very kind," she added.

The widow then wrote and volunteered herself as a character witness, the court heard.

All four defendants in the rugby rape trial deny all the charges against them.

The case continues.

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