Belfast Telegraph

If I thought it was not consensual sex with the victim nothing would have happened, Olding tells court

By Claire O'Boyle

An Ulster Rugby player on trial accused of rape has told a court he is "embarrassed" by graphic messages he sent to friends just hours after the alleged victim claims she was attacked.

In a series of WhatsApp posts, Stuart Olding (24) described himself and Ireland teammate Paddy Jackson as "top shaggers" and boasted of "spit roasting" the night before.

Olding was arrested two days later on suspicion of rape. He denies the charge.

Jackson (26) denies raping the same woman, as well as a further charge of sexual assault.

Yesterday Olding, who had returned from a tour of South Africa with the Ireland rugby team the morning before the alleged attack took place at a party, told Belfast Crown Court: "I feel very embarrassed sitting here reading them (the messages). I am certainly not proud of talking like that, but I did it, I have done it, and I shouldn't have done it."

He also described the posts as "immature boasting".

Giving evidence before the jury of eight men and three women, Olding relayed his memories of what had happened in Jackson's bedroom in the early hours of June 28, 2016.

Olding told the court he had gone to his friend's room hoping to go to bed after a night of partying, when he stumbled in on Jackson in bed with the alleged victim.

He found the door closed, he said, and after initially feeling like he had "intruded on two people kissing on the bed", he "turned to leave".

However, Olding told the court that the woman "turned around and held her hand out as an invitation to stay".

"I'm 100% sure," he added.

Olding, the youngest of three brothers, said he had found Jackson on his back on the bed, with the woman on top of him.

"They were kissing," he said.

He said he had noticed his friend's top was off, but that the woman was "fully clothed".

The defendant also said he had not witnessed any oral sex taking place when he entered the room and that after the woman invited him in, he walked to the bed and he and the alleged victim "began to kiss".

Olding told the court the woman, who was aged 19 at the time of the alleged attack, was on her back on the bed as they kissed.

"I was leaning over her, we were kissing with open mouths and tongues," he said.

It was after this, Olding said, that the woman performed oral sex on him.

When asked by defence barrister Frank O'Donoghue QC if he had "forced her mouth in any way on to your penis," Olding answered: "No, I didn't."

"Did she say anything to you to make you believe she did not want to perform this act upon you?" asked Mr O'Donoghue.

"No, she didn't," Olding said.

The sex act lasted between five and 10 minutes, Olding told the court, and he recalled two interruptions during that time.

The first, he said, was when the woman stopped to ask if he or Jackson had a condom. They did not, Olding told the court, adding that after this, the woman recommenced.

The second interruption was when "I asked her to remove her top", Olding said.

Mr O'Donoghue told his client that the alleged victim said she had been "ordered" to take her top off. Olding denied this.

"No, I said, 'Could you take your top off?'" he told the court.

The lawyer asked if the woman had shown "any reluctance" before removing her top, and Olding said: "Not at all. She did it straight away."

The defendant, a former pupil at Belfast Royal Academy, told the court the woman paused the sex act for around "five seconds" before starting again.

Olding said the oral sex stopped when he told the woman he was going to ejaculate, which he then did.

He said he did not know what sexual activity, if any, Jackson was engaged in with the woman while he was in the room.

"He was behind her and I was lying on my back," he said. "I didn't see anything but assuming the position he was in I would have assumed he was doing something, but I can't be certain that he was."

Olding added that after his 10 minutes in the room, he "believed the sexual activity between them (Jackson and the woman) would continue".

Mr O'Donoghue said: "Was there anything in that 10-minute period that made you believe (the alleged victim) was not consenting?"

"No. Not at all," said Olding. "If I thought it was not (consensual) nothing would have happened. Nothing would have started and nothing would have continued."

Olding told the court he went to the bathroom before going to sleep in an upstairs living room, where another woman at the party lay asleep. The defendant said nothing of a sexual nature happened with this woman.

The jury heard that the next day, Olding and Jackson discussed the events of the night before, with both saying the woman had performed oral sex on them.

Again addressing a number of messages exchanged on June 28, 2016, Olding told the court what a friend - who was not present on the night of the alleged attack - meant when he asked: "How was she?"

"He was referring to the night, he is not referring to the girl," said Olding. "It's just something we would say. If I was to get a new car, I would say, 'How is she?' It's a slang term."

Mr O'Donoghue read the defendant's response to the message, which read: "She was very, very loose."

Olding said: "Again, I'm referring to the night. A loose night. Good fun." The court was told another text from a friend read: "Any sluts get f****d?", to which Olding texted back: "Precious secrets."

When asked by the defence what he meant by that, Olding said: "It's a reference to Lord of the Rings. It's a nonsense comment. It is not referring to anything specific."

He also wrote a message on the WhatsApp group which said "it was like a merry-go-round at a carnival". When asked about this message, Olding responded: "I didn't even mean anything by that. It was said in an excited state. It's nonsense."

The trial continues.

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