Belfast Telegraph

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding ‘bragged of sex exploits’ to friends in series of text messages, court hears

The messages were sent over messaging App WhatsApp.
The messages were sent over messaging App WhatsApp.

By Claire O'Boyle

Rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding boasted about their shared sexual exploits just hours after a party which saw the pair accused of raping the same woman, a court has heard.

The Ulster and Ireland players exchanged a series of Whatsapp messages with friends in which Olding bragged they had been "top shaggers" at a bash at Jackson's house.

In the first day of the high profile case, the jury of nine men and three women heard how a complex network of messages unfolded in the hours after the alleged sex attacks took place.

Belfast Crown Court heard that while the sportsmen and their friends exchanged messages about a "merry-go-round" and a "roasting" at the party, the complainant was texting friends about injuries she said she'd sustained - and her concern about reporting her rape claim to police.

Jackson (26) and 24-year-old Olding strenuously deny rape.

Jackson also denies sexually assaulting the woman.

Along with them in the dock were Blane McIlroy from Lodge Road in Belfast, who is accused of exposure, and Rory Harrison from Manse Road in the city, who is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information. They also deny the charges.

In his opening statement, Toby Hedworth QC explained how phone analysis had revealed a series of phone, text and Whatsapp conversations had taken place on the morning of June 28, 2016.

In one exchange, the court heard, Jackson, Olding and McIlroy discussed their sexual acts of the night before with other friends. Olding opened the group chat with: "We are all top shaggers," adding a minute later that there had been "a bit of" a particular sexual activity "going on last night fellas".

The court heard how Jackson replied immediately that "there was a lot" of it, with Olding adding: "It was like a merry-go-round at a carnival."

Jackson sent pictures of other women who had been at the party to the group, and when asked if they were "brasses" McIlroy responded: "Aye." Less than two hours later at 1.45pm, the court heard how another friend wrote: "Legends. Why are we all such legends."

McIlroy responded: "I know it's ridiculous."

During the course of this conversation, Mr Hedworth told the court, McIlroy was involved in a separate text exchange with Harrison, who had escorted the complainant home in a taxi in the early hours of the morning, following the alleged assaults.

"What the f*** was going on?" McIlroy wrote.

"Last night was hilarious."

Harrison is understood to have replied, but that message has not been recovered, the court heard.

The woman’s messages
The woman’s messages

Less than half an hour later, just after midday, McIlroy contacted Harrison again - at the same time as the complainant sent Harrison a message on Whatsapp.

McIlroy wrote: "Did you calm her, where did she live", while the alleged victim told Harrison: "I know you must be mates with those guys but I don't like them.

"And what happened was not consensual which is why I was so upset."

Harrison replied immediately to McIlroy with: "Mate no joke she was in hysterics. Wasn't going to end well."

On the same morning, the court heard, the alleged victim was speaking to her own friends by text.

In one message, sent just after 10am, she wrote: "So I got raped by 3 Ulster f***ing rugby scum brilliant f***ing night."

She went on to give her account of what had happened, as well as details of injuries she said she'd sustained, including bruising on her inner thighs and what she said felt like internal bruising.

When one friend told her she must go to police, she replied: "I am not going to the police.

"Going up against the Ulster rugby. Yea (sic) because that'll work."

She added: "Thing is I would report it if I knew they would get done. But they won't. And that's just unnecessary stress for me. It's also humiliating."

After a further description of what she said had happened, the complainant wrote that "it will be a case of my word against theirs, not like they have CCTV in their house and because there's more of them and they'll all have the same fabricated story about me being some slut who was up for it".

"It will serve no purpose for me but be embarrassing. Because nothing will happen, like they wouldn't get done and they have the backing of Ulster rugby..."

However, the alleged victim's friend persuaded her to go to Rape Crisis later that day, the court heard. She was medically examined that evening and the following day she reported her allegations to the police.

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