Monday 20 August 2018

Woman at centre of rugby rape trial denies 'alcohol clouded her memory'

The high profile case has entered its third week

Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is on trial accused of one count of exposure, in connection with an incident in which two Ireland and Ulster rugby stars are accused of raping a woman at a property in south Belfast in June 2016. Niall Carson/PA Wire
Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is on trial accused of one count of exposure, in connection with an incident in which two Ireland and Ulster rugby stars are accused of raping a woman at a property in south Belfast in June 2016. Niall Carson/PA Wire

Lesley-Anne McKeown

A woman who accused two Irish rugby internationals of rape has refuted claims that her memory was clouded by alcohol or an unwillingness to accept reality.

The woman was giving evidence to Belfast Crown Court for a seventh day.

Arthur Harvey QC, representing Blane McIlroy - who denies a charge of exposure, told the court: "Your memory of the incident is either clouded by drink or clouded by an unwillingness to acknowledge what happened.

"That simply, you had sex with a number of men after going to their home without an invitation.

"You went up to a bedroom when there were girls down below.

"Any call that you would have made that night would have been heard.

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA Wire
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA Wire

"If you had called out for help or assistance, it would have been heard by three girls."

The high profile case has entered its third week.

The complainant has previously been cross-examined by barristers for three other men charged in connection with alleged incident in June 2016.

Paddy Jackson (26), from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and his Ulster and Ireland team mate Stuart Olding (24), from Ardenlee Street also in the city, deny raping the same woman.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

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

There were a number of tense exchanges with McIlroy's barrister, who raised questions about discrepancies in accounts provided by the complainant to rape crisis centre professionals, the police and court.

"You have an easy facility of moving from truth to untruth, or falsehood and self-delusion," Mr Harvey said.

Stuart Olding. Photo: PA
Stuart Olding. Photo: PA

When the woman asked if the lawyer was calling her "delusional", Mr Harvey added: "Self delusion is when you refer to a version of events that do not correspond with reality."

The complainant said: "I disagree with that."

Earlier, she refuted suggestions she had engaged in consensual sexual activity with McIlroy.

She had "started kissing" him; masturbated and briefly performed oral sex, according to Mr Harvey.

"No, that's completely incorrect," the woman responded. "That never happened."

She later added: "Mr Harvey, I was raped. This is a rape case. If Mr McIlroy had touched me, I think I would have made that abundantly clear to the police."

When the barrister suggested memory gaps had been filled with "activity" she was reluctant to disclose, the woman replied: "Because it never happened."

Earlier, the complainant was quizzed about the moment McIlroy entered Paddy Jackson's bedroom, where the attack is alleged to have happened.

Standing at over 6ft, he was in the doorway and was "naked", the court heard.

He was "extremely intimidating", the woman said, adding that she had to "push" past him.

The complainant was in the witness box for several hours and had to be given a break on a number of occasions.

The barrister said: "When you look at your account of these events, your memory is not only fractured but it is ragged in relation to very significant and important parts. Do you understand that?"

The woman answered: "I understand what you are saying."

Earlier in the day, she had been quizzed about comments she made about three girls who had been at Jackson's home on the night in question, as well as her reasons for leaving the party.

In a text to a friend the following morning, the woman described the girls' behaviour as "slutty", the court heard.

Mr Harvey said: "Did you tell (your friend) they were behaving in a slutty manner?"

The woman answered: "I cannot recall the exact words."

Probing further, Mr Harvey said: "Is that what you thought?"

The complainant said: "There were a number of reasons.

"Yes, the behaviour is not something that I would have partaken in."

The defence barrister said: "Being upstairs in a bedroom indicates behaviour that's more proper than three girls taking selfies. Is that what you are saying?"

The woman responded: "Those are not my words. Those are your words.

"I am saying that I didn't want to take photographs sitting on those guys' knees."

The court also heard that friends of the young woman consider her "very" determined, a court has been told.

The woman was asked whether friends thought she was mature, self-reliant, self-assured, determined and intelligent.

Answering "yes" as each adjective was relayed to the 12-person jury, the woman responded "very" when a barrister for one of the four defendants said the word "determined".

When Mr Harvey questioned if she was considered intelligent, she replied: "That's a matter of opinion."

There were some tense exchanges between the woman and Mr Harvey during a lengthy evidence session at Belfast Crown Court and the woman was given several breaks.

At one point she was questioned about her use of the third person narrative when describing events from the alleged rape.

Mr Harvey told the court it was like she was "repeating something she had read" rather than experienced.

"I am trying to make it applicable to anyone here," she replied.

Mr Harvey added: "Trying to make it applicable that every rape victim feels like this."

Later, she told the lawyer she would not engage in a row over "grammar".

She said: "I am not going to argue with you over grammar. You are not going to put words into my mouth."

The woman has been giving evidence from behind a curtain which blocks her view of the court.

The four defendants and packed public gallery have watched her testimony on a screen.

Before the 12 person jury was discharged for the day, Judge Patricia Smyth reiterated warnings not to discuss the case with anyone.

Friends of a woman at the centre of a rape trial involving two Ireland and Ulster rugby players consider her "very" determined, a court has been told.

The woman was asked whether friends thought she was mature, self-reliant, self-assured, determined and intelligent.

Answering "yes" as each adjective was relayed to the 12-person jury, the woman responded "very" when a barrister for one of the four defendants said the word "determined".

The woman, who was giving evidence for the seventh separate day, was cross-examined by Arthur Harvey QC, representing Blane McIlroy, who denies one count of exposure.

When the lawyer questioned if she was considered intelligent, she replied: "That's a matter of opinion."

There were some tense exchanges between the woman and Mr Harvey during a lengthy evidence session at Belfast Crown Court and the woman was given several breaks.

At one point she was questioned about her use of the third person narrative when describing events from the alleged rape.

Mr Harvey told the court it was like she was "repeating something she had read" rather than experienced.

"I am trying to make it applicable to anyone here," she replied.

Mr Harvey added: "Trying to make it applicable that every rape victim feels like this."

Later, she told the lawyer she would not engage in a row over "grammar".

She said: "I am not going to argue with you over grammar. You are not going to put words into my mouth."

The woman has been giving evidence from behind a curtain which blocks her view of the court.

The four defendants and packed public gallery have watched her testimony on a screen.

The trial continues.

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