Belfast Telegraph

Jackson and Olding rape trial jurors told not to assume that because woman was drunk she must have wanted sex

Jurors at the rape trial of two Irish rugby internationals have been told a woman is entitled to say no.

Issuing legal directions to the jury of eight men and three women Judge Patricia Smyth told them to "bear in mind" explanations of the law on consent.

Judge Smyth said: "A woman is entitled to say no and to decide what sexual activity she wants, how far she is prepared to go and what she does not want to do."

The high-profile trial, now in its ninth week, is approaching its final stage.

Directing her remarks towards the 11-person jury panel, Judge Smyth said: "It is for you to decide where the truth lies."

In her review of the evidence, the judge said they should not jump to any conclusions because those involved had been drunk on the night in question.

She said: "You should consider all the evidence...

"You must not assume that because (the complainant) was drunk she must have wanted sex.

"People do go out and get drunk."

The judge later added: "It would be wrong to leap to a conclusion that because she was drunk she was must have been looking for or willing to have sex."

The reliability of all witnesses whose evidence is disputed must also be established.

The judge directed jurors to consider whether memory lapses were "genuine" or if they were "simply a convenient excuse" to avoid having to explain their behaviour.

Paddy Jackson, 26, from Belfast's Oakleigh Park and his teammate Stuart Olding, 25, 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 on trial on charges connected to the alleged incident.

Blane McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, denies exposure while Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Referencing criticisms of the police investigation, Ms Smyth told jurors all the evidence had been fully tested in court.

The judge said: "It is important that you understand that it is on the basis of evidence you have heard whether you are sure of the defendants' guilt.

"Your function is not to sit in judgment of the competencies of the police or punish them for any perceived failures."

The task of the jury is to decide whether the prosecution has made them "sure" of the defendants' guilt, the court heard.

Ms Smyth added: "Please do not let yourselves be distracted from this task."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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