Belfast Telegraph

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding rape trial: Playback was difficult viewing... not least for the woman herself

By Nicola Anderson

Seen on screen in the police video of the first interview taken two days after the alleged attack, the young woman appeared to be frightened and vulnerable.

In jeans and a jumper, she sat with her legs crossed defensively, alternately weeping and trying to keep her composure as she went through her initial account of what she claimed had occurred that night.

Detective Constable Arlene McVeigh conducted the interview, giving the time as 10.43am on June 30, 2016.

When the police officer started to say something that began with: "If this should go to court.." the young woman broke down, telling her: "I don't want to see them."

It made for difficult viewing - above all for the young woman herself, now sitting in court watching her own distress two days after the alleged attack.

The blue curtain had again been pulled around her so that she did not have to see her alleged assailants in court, though her image was played on screen in courtroom number 12.

The young men and their families seated in the public area watched the proceedings intently, particularly as Brendan Kelly QC for Paddy Jackson began his cross-examination, which went on for the whole day and will continue again today.

It was as part of his examination that the police video was played. At times watching the video became too much and she became emotional, wiping her eyes.

The detective's tones were soft and soothing - but she had warned the young woman of the importance of giving a truthful account of what had happened.

"Obviously it's very important that everyone who tells anything to the police is telling the truth," she said.

"If I'm asking you a question and you don't know the answer, don't feel that, 'Arlene has asked me a question so I have to come up with an answer' because it may not be truthful," she told her.

She told of the night out with friends, of the invitation to an after-party with Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison, along with a group of girls she did not really know.

She said it had been a "completely standard after-party" but then she remembered the mood shifting.

"I think it was Blane that started taking photos with girls on the sofa," she said.

She had decided she wanted to go home. Her high heeled shoes were off so she put them back on and could be seen in a photo doing this, she said.

Her bag was upstairs as she had been upstairs previously and "I remember things happening in the bedroom," she said, adding that it was the timing of which she was unsure.

"The image I have is me in that bedroom, there was a chair beside the door, there's a bed there," she said.

Watching herself become emotional on screen, the young woman again wept in court.

"I went to get my bag and he started trying to kiss me again, my shoes were on," she said. "The next thing, he's pushed me down on the bed."

"I couldn't move," she wept. "And then I just panicked so much because I knew what was happening and in that situation you think you'd scream and shout but I couldn't move and he was so strong I just completely panicked."

Asked if they had spoken, she told the detective: "There was no conversation... this was not... we didn't speak about it. I didn't have a choice."

Belfast Telegraph

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