Belfast Telegraph

Olding, Jackson rape trial: Officer denies trying to 'catch Harrison off guard'

By Cate McCurry

A lawyer acting for one of the men at the centre of a rape case involving two Ulster Rugby player suggested that police tried to "catch him off guard" when he attended an interview months after the alleged incident.

Rory Harrison (25), who denies withholding information and perverting the course of justice about the alleged rape in June 2016, was called to attend an interview with police in October.

Mr Harrison's defence lawyer Gavin Duffy QC cross-examined the detective constable who conducted the interview at Belfast Crown Court yesterday.

The court heard that Mr Harrison had voluntarily attended Musgrave PSNI station in Belfast on October 4 on the understanding that he was making another witness statement.

Mr Duffy asked the detective whether a "conscious" and "deliberate decision" was taken not to tell Mr Harrison he was being interviewed under caution to "catch him off guard".

The police officer denied the allegation, saying: "Absolutely not. I have no evidence to suggest that."

Mr Duffy asked the officer if he was given direction by a senior officer not to provide Mr Harrison with his statement before he was interviewed under caution.

He replied: "I believe that is correct."

The detective also noted that, by October, Mr Harrison's statement had become "police evidence".

The court was told that neither Mr Harrison nor his legal representative were supplied with a copy of his first witness statement, taken days after the alleged incident.

Mr Duffy asked the officer: "Do you agree, given the fact it was three months since he made that statement, it would have been of assistance?"

He replied that it "would have helped Mr Harrison".

Mr Duffy added that at a debrief following the interview, a senior officer "reiterated the direction" that Mr Harrison was not to be provided with a copy of his statement.

The detective said he could not recall that instruction.

Three other men connected to the case are Ulster and Ireland rugby stars Paddy Jackson, (26), Stuart Olding (24) and Blane McIlory (26).

Mr Jackson and Mr Olding deny raping the same woman at a house party in June 2016. Mr Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault. Mr McIlroy denies a charge of exposure.

Also giving evidence yesterday was a detective constable from the Rape Crime Unit in Belfast.

The investigating officer was asked by Mr Jackson's barrister Brendan Kelly QC about an ABE (achieving best evidence) interview which was conducted with the complainant on June 30, 2016.

She confirmed that at the end of the interview the complainant told her there was something she had forgotten to tell her about the incident - namely someone had walked into the bedroom.

Mr Kelly asked why the alleged victim was not taken back to the interview room at that time. The officer replied: "She had already conducted a lengthy interview. I felt it better she went home, had some time, and if she had more than just that to tell us, we would conduct a further interview."

Adjourning the case for the day, Judge Patricia Smyth addressed the jury: "You have been a wonderful jury.

"Please do not discuss this event if it is tempting. It's your view that counts."

Belfast Telegraph

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