Tuesday 18 December 2018

Witness tells court that she is '100pc' positive she saw Paddy Jackson have sex with alleged rape victim

Dara Florence, pictured, Claire Matthews and Emily Docherty appeared as witnesses in the trial of Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding. Photos: Pacemaker
Dara Florence, pictured, Claire Matthews and Emily Docherty appeared as witnesses in the trial of Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding. Photos: Pacemaker
Dara Florence, Claire Matthews, pictured, and Emily Docherty appeared as witnesses in the trial of Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding. Photos: Pacemaker
Dara Florence, Claire Matthews and Emily Docherty, pictured, appeared as witnesses in the trial of Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding. Photos: Pacemaker
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

As is customary following the cross-examination by the defence, the prosecution was permitted to ask a few questions for clarification purposes.

“You were asked if you saw any signs of her not consenting,” Toby Hedworth QC asked the woman who had opened the bedroom door and seen what she described as “a threesome”.

“Were there any signs of her positively consenting?” he continued.

“No,” the witness replied.

Many small descriptive details of the night emerged from the evidence of the three women who had been at the party at Paddy Jackson’s house in Belfast.

We heard they had danced to “a bit of Abba”, they had snacked on chicken in the kitchen, and that all, bar Dara Florence – the woman who had opened the bedroom door – had consumed alcohol to varying degrees. “It was all quite innocent fun,” one woman said of the party.

The morning after it was all over, Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and another woman, Emily Docherty, who had stayed over because she was too drunk to go home, turned on the TV and watched ‘Game of Thrones’ on the L-shaped couch in the den adjoining Mr Jackson’s bedroom.

But also from their evidence has emerged the real conflict at the heart of this trial.

Dara Florence was “100pc” positive she had witnessed Mr Jackson having penetrative sex with the alleged victim.

Brendan Kelly, QC for Mr Jackson, put it to Ms Florence that she had “assumed” this from “the movement” she had observed.

“It wasn’t assumption,” she told him, adamant and almost in surprise.

“It was 100pc, I saw sex, from the movement.”

However, in his final questions to the alleged victim yesterday morning, Mr Hedworth asked whether she knew about what Mr Jackson’s case was.

It emerged that she did not.

“He says that he never had sex with you that night,” said Mr Hedworth.

“And the height of what he did is digitally penetrate you while you were performing oral sex on Mr Olding.”

“That is incorrect,” said the young woman.

In tidying up some odds and ends, the prosecution barrister brought up the note she had written by her bedside after she had returned home and which she had earlier explained was to serve as a memory aide to help her with identification.

“Blond, short, imbecile, monkeyish,” Mr Hedworth read out.

“That was my impression of Mr Olding,” she told him.

He also went back to the reading out of a text message she had sent a friend some months before in which she asked him if he was “going anywhere to watch the rugby”.

The defence had highlighted this as proof of the young woman’s interest in the sport.

However, as part of a greater chunk of texts read out by Mr Hedworth, emerged a humorous exchange in which the woman had spoken of her job promoting Guinness and joking that she had assumed she would have to dress up as a pint of beer “because the money was so good”.

The young woman’s relief after so many days of intense questioning was palpable on being told by Judge Patricia Smyth that she was free to go.

Then came the procession of the three other young women who had been there that night – Claire Matthews, Emily Docherty and Dara Florence – all close friends.

Ms Matthews described how she had been behind Dara Florence as she opened the bedroom door and to her Dara had joked: “Oh my God, I’ve just seen a threesome.”

Ms Docherty frankly admitted she’d been “really tired and drunk” and had passed out on a couch upstairs that night.

The next morning, however, she put it to Mr Jackson that he’d had a threesome.

But he shook his head and said, “No, nothing happened.”

She recalled the alleged victim as “quite nice ... quiet”.

It was Ms Florence’s account that proved most pertinent, with her comment that she did not believe that she had witnessed a rape.

Mr Kelly asked her whether she knew what the term “frozen in fear” meant, asking whether she thought the alleged victim had appeared this way as she watched her on the bed.

“No,” she replied.

Irish Independent

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