Tuesday 24 April 2018

Eilis O'Hanlon: There is a moral, as well as a legal dimension to cases of alleged rape

The verdicts of juries must be respected, but the rugby rape trial in Belfast raises many important questions, writes Eilis O'Hanlon

STATEMENT: Stuart Olding could have pocketed his not guilty verdict and walked away. Instead his statement tried to address how the woman at the centre of the case had been treated. Photo: PA
STATEMENT: Stuart Olding could have pocketed his not guilty verdict and walked away. Instead his statement tried to address how the woman at the centre of the case had been treated. Photo: PA

Eilis O'Hanlon

Churchill said that democracy was the worst form of government, apart from all the others.

The same could be said of trial by jury. Those criticising the verdicts of not guilty on Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding over the charges of rape of a woman at a south Belfast house party in June 2016 would do well to remember it.

Over 42 days, one of the longest trials in Northern Ireland's history, the jurors in Laganside Crown Court heard evidence from the complainant; from the two men accused of her rape; from fellow players Blane McIlroy, who was charged and found not guilty of exposure, and Rory Harrison, who was charged and found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

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