Belfast Telegraph

Jackson and Olding rape trial: Woman 'didn't appear to take her eyes off Paddy,' court hears

By Ashleigh McDonald

One of four men facing charges arising from the alleged rape of a woman in Paddy's Jackson's south Belfast home told police she was "staring at and fixated on" the rugby player and "didn't appear to take her eyes off Paddy".

As a trial at Belfast Crown Court concluded its third week, the jury heard details of a statement given by Rory Harrison (25) two days after the alleged sex attack.

After the young woman made a complaint to police that she had been raped by Jackson (26) and his 24-year old teammate Stuart Olding in the early hours of June 28, 2016, an investigation was launched.

A Detective Constable from the Rape Crisis Unit at Ladas Drive in Belfast was called to give evidence, and confirmed he and a colleague went to Harrison's home on June 30. At this point, Harrison was not being treated as a suspect, and police attended his home to take a witness statement.

This six-page statement was read to the jury of nine men and three women by the police officer.

In it, Harrison details how he, Jackson, Olding and Blane McIlroy (26) met for drinks in Cutter's Wharf where they had a few drinks and watched a football match. He said they then got a taxi to Ollie's, arrived around midnight and "didn't have to pay in".

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Rory Harrison. Pic: Pacemaker.

Whilst at the club, Harrison said they struck up a conversation with a group of girls, and also "some people in Ollie's were asking for pictures with Paddy and Stuart because they play professional rugby for Ulster".

Harrison said he and his friends left Ollie's at around 2am, and as "Paddy is the only one of us who has his own place, it was assumed we would go back there". He said music was played, people "may have been" dancing and "everyone appeared to be in good form".

In his statement, Harrison told police the woman at the centre of the case "appeared to be staring at and fixated on Paddy ... she didn't appear to take her eyes off Paddy".

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Paddy Jackson. Pic Pacemaker.

Harrison said: "Paddy went to bed first, about an hour after getting home. Paddy went to his bedroom alone.

"Shortly after Paddy left, perhaps about five minutes or so, (the woman) left the living room. I saw her heading up the stairs. I didn't know where she was going to."

Harrison said Olding then left the room with a girl at the party, which left him, McIlroy and two other women in the living room.

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Blane McIlroy. Pic Pacemaker.

Harrison said Blane then left the room, and after the two girls left in a taxi, he decided it was time for him to go too.

He said that after going upstairs, he saw the woman at the centre of the case standing outside Jackson's bedroom. His statement said: "I couldn't be sure what she was wearing. I didn't notice anything out of the ordinary at this time.

"I said goodbye to Paddy, who was lying in his bed half asleep. He said he would see me later."

Harrison said he checked another room, where he saw Olding and one of the girls fully clothed and sleeping on a sofa.

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Stuart Olding. Pic: Pacemaker.

He said when the woman came down the stairs "a few minutes later", she was "quite upset and crying. I asked if she was okay and she just sat there and didn't respond. I told her I would drop her home as I had ordered a taxi."

In his statement, Harrison told police that after they both got into the rear seat, there was "no real conversation between us", and that the woman "kept crying in to herself and appeared to be unsettled." He then walked her to her front door.

He concluded his statement by saying he, McIlory, Jackson and Olding met in a cafe on the Ormeau Road at 1.30pm that afternoon, where they "sat and talked about the South African Rugby Tour Paddy had just returned from ... there was no discussion about the previous evening".

A total of four police officers involved in the investigation gave evidence on Friday. And while one officer confirmed at that stage that nobody directed him to either seize or check Harrison's phone, another officer confirmed Harrison voluntarily gave a buckle swab sample.

After listening to a full week of evidence, and before sending them home for the weekend, Judge Patricia Smyth issued a warning to the jury members to "be on your guard".

She urged that even if they are approached and asked about their jury service by friends or family, she reminded then "you are not permitted to discuss anything to do with this trial ... I cannot emphasise that enough".

Jackson (26) from Oakleigh Park, and 24-year old Stuart Olding, from Ardenlee Street, have both been charged with rape, while Jackson faces an addition charge of sexual assault.

Blane McIlroy (26), from Royal Lodge Road, has been charged with exposure, while Rory Harrison (25) from Manse Road, has been charged with perverting the course of justice, and withholding information.

All four defendants deny the charges levelled against them.

The trial is due to resume next week.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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