Belfast Telegraph

Alleged rugby rape victim not attracted to celebrities, court hears

Irish international rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016.

A woman allegedly raped by two Irish international rugby stars has denied being attracted to celebrities.

The woman insisted she had no knowledge of rugby or football when quizzed in court about a night out at a Belfast club in the presence of members of the Ulster Rugby and Northern Ireland football squads just hours before the alleged attack.

The jury at the trial of 26-year-old Paddy Jackson and his 24-year-old Ireland and Ulster team mate Stuart Olding was shown CCTV footage on Friday of the woman and her friend in the VIP section of Ollie’s nightclub on June 28 2016.

The video showed her in the company of some members of the Northern Ireland football team who were in the VIP area, where Jackson, Olding and other members of Ulster Rugby were also partying.

bpanews_5fe20bf3-1bfe-4b7c-8014-975d76f9f0db_embedded234747227
Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court (Brian Lawless/PA)

She was seen briefly placing her hand on the knee of Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty and momentarily holding on to the arm of Will Grigg.

After the footage was played to Belfast Crown Court a defence lawyer asked the woman: “Were you attracted at the time to celebrities?”

She responded: “No, I didn’t know who those people were.”

The lawyer then said: “You knew who Paddy Jackson was.”

The woman replied: “I knew his name and what he looked like.”

Earlier the woman insisted that she had not gone into the club’s VIP section specifically to meet players.

After leaving the nightclub the woman went to an after-party at Jackson’s home, where the alleged rape occurred.

bpanews_5fe20bf3-1bfe-4b7c-8014-975d76f9f0db_embedded234747734
Rugby players court case

She repeatedly insisted to the jury that she had not been a follower of rugby or its players.

The court heard that before she reported the alleged attack to police a friend advised her in a text message to pretend she did not know they were rugby players.

A defence lawyer for Jackson asked the woman: “Have you watered down your following of rugby or your knowledge of the people who played it?”

She responded: “Not at all. I have not watered down anything.”

The woman was asked if on the night of the alleged attack she was aware that Ulster Rugby players were in the VIP area of Ollie’s nightclub in Belfast before she went into it.

She responded: “We didn’t go into the VIP area to meet rugby players, if that’s what you are suggesting.”

The court also heard how the woman was concerned that photographs may have been taken of her during the alleged assault.

bpanews_5fe20bf3-1bfe-4b7c-8014-975d76f9f0db_embedded234747893
Rugby players court case

During a police interview, which was played for the jury, the woman told an officer that a female had walked into the bedroom when she was allegedly being assaulted by Jackson and Olding and that she did not know if she had taken photographs.

“I was mortified what was happening and I didn’t want to be identified if she was taking photos,” she said.

The high-profile case, scheduled for five weeks, is being heard by Judge Patricia Smyth.

Jackson, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and Olding, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Two other men have also been returned for trial on charges connected with the same incident.

Blane McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, has pleaded not guilty to one count of exposure, while Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The case has been adjourned to Monday.

Daily News Headlines Newsletter

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox.

Popular

From Belfast Telegraph