Belfast Telegraph

Jackson and Stuart were having breakfast when Ulster coaches rang to say PSNI wanted to see them, court hears

By Cate McCurry

Belfast Crown Court has heard of how rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding first became aware they were being sought by police.

The court was told it came about when former head coach Les Kiss called Mr Jackson as he was ordering breakfast.

The details emerged during the sixth week of the high profile trial in which Mr Jackson and Mr Olding deny raping the same woman at a house in June 2016.

Mr Jackson, from Oakleigh Park in the city, denies a further charge of sexual assault.

The court heard how two days after the alleged attack, on June 30, Mr Jackson and Mr Olding were out for breakfast when they were contacted by Ulster Rugby officials telling them that the PSNI had asked the pair to attend Musgrave Police Station immediately.

"I was in the middle of ordering pancakes when Les Kiss rang me," Mr Jackson told the court.

As the former head coach informed him that he was to attend the station, Mr Olding, who was sitting opposite, held up his phone to show that team manager Bryn Cunningham was ringing him.

Mr Jackson continued: "He (Les Kiss) said: 'Paddy, the police are here, you have to go to Musgrave Police Station'.

"My heart sank, I didn't know what was going on. Stuart looked pretty shocked."

He said that after telling the waitress to cancel the food, they went straight to the station. Mr Jackson said he didn't know why at first, but thought maybe he and Mr Olding had witnessed a fight during a previous night out.

He also said he thought "it may have been something we were both involved in since getting home" from a South African tour with Ireland.

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

The court heard how, in the hours after the alleged incident, Mr Jackson "briefly discussed" what happened with Mr Olding but "didn't go into any detail about it".

That morning the pair commented in a WhatsApp conversation about the events in which they both refer to a specific sexual act. When he was asked about this conversation, and the content of some of the messages, Mr Jackson said it was "just a stupid, immature conversation".

"We would talk like that sometimes," he added.

Mr Jackson was asked by his lawyer Brendan Kelly QC: "Were you publishing you had raped (the complainant) that night?" He replied: "No, I wasn't."

Mr Jackson was asked about the conversation that took place in Soul Food in Belfast, where the four accused met in the hours after the alleged attack.

"I remember saying that I didn't have sex with her and he (Olding) said the same," Mr Jackson added. "That's the only conversation we had. I had no concerns about what happened."

His lawyer asked: "Did you make a pact to lie about what happened the night before?"

Mr Jackson replied: "No."

When asked how he felt about the night in question, he replied: "It sounds stupid, I knew at the time it was good. I don't want to ever be involved in something like this again."

Belfast Telegraph

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