Sunday 19 August 2018

Woman instigated oral sex, Olding tells rape trial

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA

Ashleigh McDonald

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were called to the witness box at Belfast Crown Court last week where they told their versions of what occurred in Mr Jackson's bedroom in June 2016.

The international rugby players have been charged with raping the same woman two days after returning from a four-week tour with Ireland in South Africa.

Both Mr Jackson (26) and Mr Olding (25) have denied the charge - claiming any sexual activity with the then 19-year-old was consensual - while Mr Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

The trial didn't sit last Monday or Tuesday owing to a juror being ill, but it resumed on Wednesday when Mr Jackson was called to the stand (see Niamh Horan's report opposite).

Next to take the stand after Mr Jackson was Mr Olding. On Thursday, he told the jury of eight men and three women that he was "in a good place" after coming home from the tour to South Africa, and was pleased to be making a name for himself in his international career.

Under questioning from his barrister, Frank O'Donoghoe QC, Mr Olding was asked about his version of what occurred in Mr Jackson's bedroom.

Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA
Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photo: PA

Mr Olding claimed he brought another young woman who attended the party in Mr Jackson's home that night to an upstairs room after she was sick. He said he then walked into Mr Jackson's bedroom as he wanted to go to sleep. He said that after opening the door, he saw Mr Jackson lying on his back, with the woman "on top of him and kissing him".

When Mr O'Donoghoe asked: "When you walked in what was your reaction?" Mr Olding replied: "My reaction was I had just intruded on two people kissing."

He was then asked: "What did you do?" He said: "I stood at the door and turned to leave."

After Mr O'Donoghoe asked his client: "Did either of them do anything or say anything?" Mr Olding said the woman "turned around and held out her hand, as in an invitation to stay".

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

When asked by Mr O'Donoghoe: "How sure are you of that?" Mr Olding replied, "100pc".

He said he closed the door and began kissing the woman on the bed. He said: "After we stopped kissing, I lay down on the bed with my head on the pillow. She was kneeling over me. I'm not quite sure how my jeans became undone... then oral sex started happening." He said this sexual activity lasted "between five and 10 minutes".

Mr O'Donoghoe then asked his client: "Did you force her in any way to perform oral sex upon you?" Mr Olding replied: "No, I did not force her in any way."

Mr Olding said the sex act came to an end when he ejaculated, and at that point he left the room, went to a bathroom to clean himself up, then slept in another room.

Mr O'Donoghoe asked Mr Olding: "Was there anything in the course of that 10-minute period that made you believe that [the woman] was not consenting to anything that was taking place in that bedroom at that time?"

Mr Olding replied: "No, not at all. If I thought that, nothing would have started and nothing would have continued."

He was also questioned about the WhatsApp conversation he had with friends hours after the alleged sex attack. In a group chat, Mr Olding posted a message which said "we are all top shaggers". When asked: "Why did you say that?" Mr Olding replied: "I was referring to the events of the night before. It was just immature boasting to my friends."

Under cross-examination from prosecuting counsel Toby Hedworth QC, Mr Olding was questioned about his alcohol intake prior to the incident in the bedroom. This consisted of eight cans of beer, four pints of Guinness, two gin and tonics, four vodka and lemonades, three shots, plus another beer back at Mr Jackson's.

Asked by Mr Hedworth whether this was "a bit of a skinful", Mr Olding said the consumption was over a long period, and that he had eaten twice during that period. He also accepted that, while he was drunk, he was "in complete control" of his actions.

Mr Hedworth then suggested to Mr Olding that when he and his friends got back to Mr Jackson's house drunk, he and Mr Jackson "were not interested" in what the woman at the centre of the case "wanted to do or was prepared to do" as "she was just a vehicle for your own sexual desires that night". Mr Olding replied: "No, I wouldn't put it that way."

Pointing out that both Mr Olding and Mr Jackson were professional rugby players who used their skills and strength to overpower opponents on the field, Mr Hedworth asked Mr Olding: "What match, Mr Olding, is a 19-year-old young woman going to be for the pair of you, if she decided to try and resist what you were doing?"

Mr Olding replied: "I don't know. If she had have resisted in any way, I would have had no problem with that. I wouldn't have carried on."

Asked again if he thought she was any match for them, he replied: "I don't think she would have been a match."

At the end of his cross examination, Mr Hedworth said to Mr Olding: "The reality is that you and your friends went beyond the point of what you knew was acceptable and were trying to cover up what happened on a drunken night out with you and Paddy Jackson and Blane McIlroy."

Mr Olding replied: "That's not true. I am saying that everything that happened that night was completely consensual."

On Friday, Mr McIlroy took to the stand. He has been charged with, and denies, one count of exposure.

Mr McIlroy claims that any sexual activity was consensual and came to an end when he couldn't find a condom.

His version of events differs greatly from both the complainant's and Mr Jackson's. Mr Jackson said he couldn't remember Mr McIlroy being in the bedroom.

The woman claimed that after her ordeal with Mr Jackson and Mr Olding, Mr McIlroy entered the bedroom naked and with his penis in his hand. She claimed he thrust at her and demanded she have sex with him too.

Saying "how many times does it take for a girl to say no before it sinks in?" and claiming she was fearful of a further attack, the complainant alleged she gathered her clothes and, as she tried to get out of the bedroom, Mr McIlroy attempted to prevent her by blocking the door.

When asked for his account of events by his barrister, Arthur Harvey QC, Mr McIlroy claimed that after 4am, he and Rory Harrison were the only ones left in the living room as everyone else had either gone home or upstairs.

Mr Harrison is accused of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Exactly one minute after a taxi arrived to pick up two girls from the party, Mr McIlroy sent a text to Mr Jackson saying: "Is there any possibility of a threesome?" which was unanswered.

He said he sat downstairs with Mr Harrison for a while before heading upstairs to go to bed. Mr McIlroy claimed he opened Mr Jackson's bedroom door, saw his friend and the woman naked in bed, then sat at the edge of the bed and said: "What have you two been up to?"

Mr McIlroy claimed he and the woman started kissing, then she instigated sexual activity. He said that when he stood up to take his jeans down, she started performing oral sex on him for around 10 seconds.

Claiming Mr Jackson was also lying on the bed, Mr McIlroy said the complainant asked if anyone had condoms. He said he left the room to look, and when he returned to the bedroom, she was getting dressed.

When asked by Mr Harvey: "Did you force yourself upon her at any stage?" Mr McIlroy replied: "No, not at all." And when asked if the woman ever said "no or stop", he replied: "No, never."

Mr McIlroy was questioned about a text he received from Mr Harrison, who took the woman home in a taxi and who told his friend she was "in hysterics... wasn't going to end well".

When Mr Harvey asked Mr McIlroy what his reaction to the text was, he answered: "I didn't, I honestly didn't take it seriously. I saw [the woman] leave and I knew she was not in hysterics."

Mr McIlroy's version of events was described as "complete Fantasy Island" by Mr Hedworth, who also accused him and the three other men of meeting and getting their stories straight. But he told Mr McIlroy: "You got your lines wrong... you have Stuart Olding's false version of events."

Mr McIlroy was also questioned about text and WhatsApp messages - specifically a message he posted alongside a picture of himself and three girls who attended the party which he captioned 'Love Belfast Sluts'.

Saying he posted it to a WhatsApp group called 'The Juicers', which consists of friends from America, Mr McIlroy said: "I was just being stupid. It was a silly comment to make and they obviously weren't."

When asked about the language used in these messages - which also refer to the girls as "brasses" - he answered: "It's pretty stupid and idiotic. I'm not proud of it, when you read it back."

He also admitted deleting five text messages between him and Mr Harrison which mentioned the complainant. When asked why, he said: "When the police phoned me, I just panicked. I thought they didn't read well and I deleted them, but in hindsight I shouldn't have."

Regarding inconsistencies in the version of events given by each of the accused, Mr McIlroy was asked: "Has the penny not dropped that even your own friends have suggested your story is wrong?" This was rejected by Mr McIlroy, who said: "I have told the truth from the word go."

Pointing out that at no stage in her evidence did the complainant suggest there was any sexual activity between her and Mr McIlroy, Mr Hedworth also asked Mr McIlroy: "Do you have any idea how preposterous your account is?" Again, Mr McIlroy insisted he was telling the truth.

Sunday Independent

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