Paddy Jackson attends court for preliminary hearing ahead of rape trial
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson has attended court in Belfast for a preliminary hearing ahead of his rape trial.
Jackson, 25, and club and international team mate Stuart Olding, 24, are accused of raping the same woman at a property in south Belfast in June last year.
They have strenuously denied the charges. Their high-profile trial is scheduled to start in January.
During the short pre-trial hearing in Belfast Crown Court, prosecution and defence lawyers discussed a number of outstanding legal issues.
Judge Patricia Smyth scheduled another hearing next Friday to further consider the legal matters prior to the scheduled start of the trial on January 22.
Jackson, from Oakleigh Park, Belfast, sat at the back of the court during the proceedings.
He is accused of one count of rape and one of sexual assault.
Olding, of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, is charged with two counts of rape.
Two other men have also been returned for trial on charges connected with the 2016 incident.
Blane McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, is accused of one count of exposure.
Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information. He also attended Friday's short hearing.
All four have pleaded not guilty and they are all on bail.
Fly-half Jackson has been capped for Ireland 25 times and centre Olding has played four times. They are established stars for Ulster Rugby.
The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby have said they will not play again until court proceedings conclude.
Belfast Telegraph Digital