New development in case of rape-accused Ulster rugby stars Jackson and Olding
The alleged rape victim of two Ireland and Ulster rugby stars may be questioned during a pre-trial hearing, a lawyer has said.
Paddy Jackson, 25, and Stuart Olding, 24, deny all allegations against them following an incident last year.
A legal hitch has thrown plans to test the strength of the prosecution case on October 17 into doubt. The hearing in Belfast could stretch to several days if the alleged injured party is called to attend, presiding district judge Fiona Bagnall said.
Tony Caher, a lawyer representing another man connected to the case but facing less serious charges, told Belfast Magistrates' Court: "We may require to ask this person questions."
Olding, of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, is charged with two counts of rape.
Jackson, from Oakleigh Park, Belfast, is accused of one count of rape and one of sexual assault.
The offences are alleged to have been committed against the same woman in Belfast in June 2016.
Fly-half Jackson has been capped for Ireland 25 times and centre Olding has played four times.
They are established stars for Ulster Rugby.
The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby have said Jackson and Olding will not play again until court proceedings conclude.
Charges against two other men connected with the case have also been lodged with the court.
Blane McIlroy, 25, from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, is accused of one count of exposure.
Rory Harrison, also 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information. Mr Caher represents Harrison.
The legal issue emerged as lawyers prepare for a preliminary enquiry which will outline the state's case against the accused before they are sent for trial. It is expected to be resolved within days, a solicitor said.
Lawyers for the accused said if the victim was to attend it would change the way they approached the hearing.
District judge Bagnall said: "I think we would possibly lose October 17, we are into that territory.
"It may well take more than a day so the 17th could be redundant in any event."
The case was adjourned until later this month.