Belfast Telegraph

Alleged rape victim 'has no complaint' against rugby pair's pal who saw her home

By Claire O'Boyle

A student who has accused two Ulster Rugby players of raping her has "absolutely no complaint" against their friend Rory Harrison, a court heard.

The woman, who claims she was assualted by Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, told Belfast Crown Court she was "grateful" to Harrison for taking her home after the alleged attack.

She said: "I have absolutely no complaint against him - he took me home and I'm grateful for that."

Jackson (26) and 24-year-old Olding deny rape. Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Harrison (25), of Manse Road, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding evidence. He denies the charges.

Following a night out at Ollie's nightclub in Belfast city centre in June 2016, Harrison joined Jackson, Olding and 26-year-old Blane McIlroy for an after-party at Jackson's home at Oakleigh Park in south Belfast. Also in the group were the complainant and three other women.

In her sixth day giving evidence, the woman, who was 19 at the time of the alleged attack, told the court that while Harrison did not witness what happened during the alleged attack in the early hours of June 28, 2016, he saw her "in an extremely distressed state". She added: "I wasn't screaming but I was crying a lot."

The jury of nine men and three women had already heard Harrison took the complainant home in a taxi after the alleged rape, and sent her several messages in the hours that followed.

After ensuring she got home at around 5.15am, he sent a text saying "keep the chin up you wonderful young woman", to which she replied: "Thank you so much for leaving me home, I really appreciate it Rory, you've been far too kind."

Harrison texted the woman again around noon that day asking if she was feeling better, the court heard. She texted back: "To be honest, no. I know you must be mates with those guys but I don't like them. And what happened was not consensual, which is why I was so upset. Again, thank you for taking me home. That was really appreciated."

It was revealed yesterday that Harrison's response to her message was just one word: "Jesus." He added in a later text: "I'm not sure what to say."

When pressed by Mr Duffy about whether Harrison's response indicated an element of surprise, the woman, who gave evidence from behind a curtain, said: "It would seem to appear that way, yes."

In further questioning, the complainant accepted Harrison was "unlikely to have noticed" anything untoward about her clothing in the immediate aftermath of the alleged attack. In earlier statements she had said Harrison "must have seen" blood on her trousers.

Yesterday she said: "There was blood on the lining and the trousers were white, so I presumed it had soaked through."

Mr Duffy told how Harrison had walked the woman up the driveway at her home and checked someone was in, before asking if she was okay, giving her a hug and leaving in the cab.

The court also heard that in a text to a friend in the hours after the alleged sex attack, the complainant explained Harrison's actions, saying: "It wasn't a 'get her out of the house now, she's kicking off' sort of thing."

She told Mr Duffy: "I believe Mr Harrison's actions were quite genuine."

The court heard that in an earlier statement the woman, now 21, told police "he was trying to console me", adding: "I don't think he was aware of what happened."

Yesterday she said: "I'm not sure of the timeline but Mr Harrison was made very aware the next morning." McIlroy, from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, is also charged in connection with the incident. He denies one count of exposure.

The four accused again sat together in the dock yesterday. Jackson, in an open neck shirt and navy jumper, sat next to Olding, of Ardenlee Street in Belfast, who was dressed in a grey jacket and purple tie.

McIlroy wore a navy suit and tie and sat next to Harrison on the other end, who was dressed in a navy jacket and patterned tie.

Judge Patricia Smyth repeated warnings to the jury about reading reports or online accounts.

The trial continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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