Belfast Telegraph

Officer admits 'inconsistencies' in interviews with woman who says rugby stars raped her

Olding's barrister questions differences in statement made to doctor

By Cate McCurry

An investigating officer has admitted there were "significant inconsistencies" in interviews given to a doctor and to police by a woman who claims she was raped by Ulster and Ireland rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

As the Crown case drew to an end, an officer from the Rape Crime Unit gave evidence regarding accounts the complainant gave to police two days after the alleged attack, and what she told a doctor at a rape crisis referral centre.

On her second day of giving evidence at Belfast Crown Court, the investigating officer agreed with a defence barrister that there were "significant inconsistencies" in what the alleged victim said.

Jackson (26) and Olding (24) both deny raping the same woman at a house party on June 28, 2016. Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

On day 24 of the trial, Olding's defence barrister Frank O'Donoghue QC cross-examined the police officer about how she conducted the 'achieving best evidence' (ABE) interview with the alleged victim on June 30, 2016.

The court was told that the purpose of such an interview was to identify precisely what the complaint is and to establish any evidential leads.

Referring to a report from Dr Phillip Lavery at the Rowan sexual assault referral centre and to what was said during the ABE, Mr O'Donoghue said the woman gave two different accounts as to how Olding's penis came to be in her mouth and whether or not her head was forced using his hands.

Mr O'Donoghue asked the detective constable: "When you read Dr Lavery's report did you not say, 'What in God's name is this?'"

The officer, who has 20 years of experience, replied: "I don't think I would have said that."

The lawyer further asked: "Did she tell you she had been to the Rowan and had given a completely different history?"

The officer answered: "No."

Mr O'Donoghue added: "After receiving the report was it not apparent to you that there were a number of significant inconsistencies as to what she said at the Rowan and what she told police?" The court heard the police officer agree that there were "significant inconsistencies" and that these could be explained by a number of reasons, including trauma or making a mistake.

Mr O'Donoghue asked the officer why the complainant was not interviewed for a third time in light of the inconsistencies; however the detective constable stated that "no decision was made" to conduct a further interview.

There were also outstanding issues around when Olding left the room and how the woman's top and shoes came off, the barrister suggested.

The defence lawyer asked: "Were there not a number of fairly obvious questions that should have been asked by you?"

The officer replied: "It's not about questions. It's about them being comfortable and telling us what happened in their own words. It's about taking the time and not rushing."

The court was reminded of the complainant's police interview in which she described the clothing Olding was wearing on the night of the alleged rape. She told officers that he was wearing a blue shirt with white buttons, jeans and brown shoes.

Mr O'Donoghue said: "You are the investigating officer. There is an evidential lead with a very clear description of what he was wearing."

It emerged during the cross-examination that on the day Olding was arrested on suspicion of rape, he handed his house keys to police.

While Olding was being interviewed, officers used the keys to enter his home in an attempt to retrieve the clothing he was wearing the night of the alleged attack.

The officers, however failed to locate any of the items including the boxer shorts he was wearing.

His lawyer further stated that Olding's house was searched without his knowledge.

He added that Olding made it clear to police that the oral sex had been "entirely consensual and did not involve coaxing, force or violence".

Two other men have also been charged with offences arising from the alleged incident.

Blane McIlroy (26), from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, has been charged with and denies exposure, while 25-year-old Rory Harrison denies a charge of perverting the course of justice, and withholding information.

Concluding the day's proceedings later, Crown lawyer Toby Hedworth told the court: "That is the case on behalf of the prosecution."

Judge Patricia Smyth told the jury that they would not be required to attend today as there were legal matters to deal with.

She added: "May I thank each of you coming here today regardless of the (weather) conditions.

"I appreciate your diligence."

Belfast Telegraph

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