Belfast Telegraph

One rape charge against Ulster player Stuart Olding dropped

By Ashleigh McDonald

One of two rape charges against Irish rugby international Stuart Olding was dropped on Friday after it emerged "no evidence" is being offered by the Crown.

On the direction of Judge Patricia Smyth, a statement was issued at Belfast Crown Court yesterday following an agreement by both the Crown and Olding’s legal team.

The 24-year-old, from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, was initially charged with two counts of rape — which he has consistently denied. Olding will now be acquitted of one of the two charges.

The agreed statement said that the prosecution has confirmed that it will no longer be proceeding with one of the rape charges against Olding.

“No evidence will now be offered by the prosecution in respect of this charge, and Mr Olding will be acquitted of this count of rape,” it read.

The statement went on to acknowledge that Mr Olding always denied the rape offence and “challenged the adequacy of the evidence against him in respect of this charge at two hearings during 2017, which the prosecution successfully opposed on the basis of the forensic evidence that the prosecution obtained at that time”. It went on to say that the prosecution is not proceeding with this charge as a result of additional forensic evidence now available.

“Had that evidence been available at an earlier stage, the vaginal rape charge would not have been brought against Mr Olding at any time,” the statement said.

However, the statement added that the prosecution is proceeding with the second rape charge against Olding.

Olding is set to stand trial at the end of January, alongside Ireland and Ulster team-mate Paddy Jackson (25), from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and two other co-accused.

Jackson has been charged with, and denied, raping the same complainant and sexually assaulting her at a house in Belfast on June 28 last year.

Two other men are also facing charges arising from the same alleged incident.

Blane McIlroy (25), from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, was charged with, and denied, exposing his private parts on June 28 last year, “intending that someone would see them and be caused alarm or distress”.

Rory Harrison, who is also 25 and from Manse Road in the city, denied two charges, namely perverting the course of justice on dates between June 27 and July 1, and withholding information on dates between June 27 and October 5, 2016.

The trial is scheduled to start at Belfast Crown Court on January 22, 2018.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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