Ulster rugby rape trial hears evidence from Paddy Jackson
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson has denied raping a woman then "grandstanding about what a fabulous night it had been" in a WhatsApp conversation hours after the alleged attack.
Instead, the 26-year old told Belfast Crown Court he never forced himself on the young woman and would have "completely freaked out" had he known she left his house crying and upset.
Jackson spent several hours in the witness box, where he rejected suggestions he "pushed and pushed beyond what that young woman was prepared to do."
It also emerged that Jackson first became aware police were seeking him when the then head coach of Ulster Rugby, Les Kiss, called him when he was ordering pancakes for breakfast, two days after the alleged rape.
Jackson, from Oakleigh Park, is currently on trial at Belfast Crown Court, charged with raping and sexually assaulting a woman in his bedroom following a night out at in the VIP area of Ollie's.
Denying he forced himself upon the woman, Jackson was asked by his barrister, Brendan Kelly QC, if he was "party to a violent attack" on the complainant, or if he had ever been violent to anyone else. Jackson replied: "No, no I haven't. I have never been in a fight. I am not an aggressive person."
He answered questions about his schooling and rugby career, and confirmed that in the days before the alleged sex attack, he had been on tour in South Africa with the Irish rugby squad. He also revealed his close friendships with fellow rugby players Craig Gilroy and Rory Best.
He also confirmed he and his co-accused - Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison - had been in McIlroy's house before going to Cutter's Wharf then Ollie's on evening on June 27th.
When asked for his version of event after a group of people - including the complainant - arrived back at his house for an afterparty, Jackson said he noticed she was "looking at me." Jackson said there was laughing, dancing and drinks consumed, and that he noticed the woman's attention was fixed on him.
He said: "We were flirting with each other. If I had gone to the kitchen, on a couple of occasions she followed me. It seemed very innocent."
The jury has already heard Jackson and the woman were upstairs at one point, where consensual kissing took place. The woman claimed this came to an end when Jackson grabbed at the top of her trousers and she resisted.
When questioned by Mr Kelly about this first kissing, Jackson said he was "100%" certain she followed him upstairs. Denying the woman's claims he lunged at her, Jackson said the kissing was passionate but stopped. When asked why, Jackson said: "She pulled away and asked me if I knew what her name was."
When asked what his response was, Jackson replied: "I didn't respond initially because it was a bit awkward to be honest." And when asked by Mr Kelly "did you know her name?", Jackson said he didn't.
He said they both went back down to the party, that the flirting continued and at one stage the woman ran her fingernails down his arm.
Jackson was then asked about the 'second incident' in which she claimed she was raped from behind by him, whilst being forced to perform oral sex on Olding. Jackson said: "I was in the kitchen then I went, upstairs again. I think she saw me going up and I thought she might follow me up again. If she did, we would probably continue where we left off."
Jackson said when the woman entered his bedroom "she came to me, she met me in the middle." He then claimed they starting kissing again. Mr Kelly asked his client "did you grab her at any stage" to which he replied "No I didn't."
Mr Kelly then asked "did you pull her from the doorway", with Jackson replying "no." And when asked by Mr Kelly "did you apply any force at all", Jackson answered "No, I wouldn't do that."
Jackson claimed the woman then performed oral sex on him, and when asked how he knew this was a consensual act, he said: "Well she was doing it. She was doing it to me. She was enjoying it." Jackson said as this was nearing an end, Stuart Olding walked into the bedroom.
When asked what happened at this point, Jackson said: "He walked in on us and it was a bit embarrassing. I kind of smiled at him and waved at him. It's a bit stupid but that's what happened. It was kind of like 'hi, look what's happening.'"
Jackson said the woman turned her attention to Olding, and while she was performing oral sex on Olding, he moved down the bed and began "touching her with my hands."
Jackson denied using his penis, and said this was because he couldn't find any condoms. And when asked about the woman who walked in on the act and who described him having intercourse with the woman, Jackson said: "She is wrong. She is mistaken."
The complainant has made the case she fled from Jackson's house, in a state of distress and bleeding, having just been raped.
Mr Kelly asked Jackson what he would have done if he had seen such a sight. Jackson replied: "The last thing I want is a girl crying and leaving my house. I would have completely freaked out. I would have done anything to help her.
"If I had known she was upset, I would have tried to contact her." When asked why, Jackson replied: "For the fear of this. I would have been aware ... stuff like this happens. I had no idea she was upset."
He was also asked if he noticed blood during the incident in his bedroom. He answered "It was just a bit on my fingers. I thought it was something to do with her period. She didn't say anything and I didn't say to her. I thought it would have been a bit embarrassing for both of us."
Mr Kelly then spoke of blood being associated with pain, with Jackson saying if this was the case "I would have stopped. I would have asked if she was okay. If there was any pain I would have helped her."
That morning, Jackson and Olding commented in a WhatsApp conversation about the events hours before. In the messages, Olding and Jackson both refer to 'spitroasting' while Olding branded them 'top shaggers'.
When he was asked about this conversation, and the content of some of the messages, Jackson said it was "just a stupid, immature conversation" and added it was done whilst they were all hungover.
It emerged during today's hearing that Jackson and Olding became aware they were sought by police as they met for breakfast on the morning of June 30th.
The court heard then Ulster rugby coach Les Kiss rang Jackson to inform him, whilst at the same time the team's manager Bryn Cunningham was contacting Olding. Jackson said he didn't know why at first, but thought maybe he and Olding had witnessed a fight.
He also said he thought "it may have been something we were both involved in since getting home" from the south African tour.
As well as being questioned by his own barrister, Jackson was also cross-examined by Toby Hedworth QC.
Jackson has admitted drinking for hours before the incident in his bedroom. Mr Hedworth spoke of alcohol reducing inhibitions and said it "makes people do things they wouldn't normally do. It makes people misinterpret situations and it makes people to unacceptable things that in the cold sober light of day they know they shouldn't have done, and that is what you did that night, isn't it Mr Jackson?" He replied "no, not at all."
Mr Hedworth said that after Ollie's, Jackson and his three friends went back to his house with four "attractive young woman" and said there must have been "an expectation of what the night would have in store."
The Crown barrister suggested Jackson had forced sexual intercourse with the woman, and had then engaged in a spitroast with him at one end and Olding at the other. These suggestions were rejected by Jackson, who again claimed he only uses his hands and fingers in consensual sexual activity.
Telling Jackson it was the Crown's case that on the second visit to the bedroom he "wouldn't take no for an answer" - which Jackson denied - Mr Hedworth asked whether it was plausible that he "resisted the temptation with that young woman in that position with you behind her on the bed, not to put your penis inside her?". Jackson said it was, as he only ever used his hands and fingers.
Mr Hedworth then put to Jackson "you had sexual intercourse with her. You forced yourself upon her, then you beckoned your friend Stuart Olding to join in, when she made it quite apparent to you that she didn't want any sexual activity with anyone." Jackson rejected this and said "no, quite the opposite."
Olding (24) from Ardenlee Street, has been charged with, and denies, one count of oral rape.
Also facing charges arising from the incident is 26-year old Blane McIlroy, from Royal Lodge Road, who has been charged with, and denies, exposure, while Rory Harrison (25) from Manse Road, has been charged with and denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.
The four co-accused met for lunch at a cafe on the Ormeau Road on the afternoon of June 28th, 2016. It has already emerged during the six-week trial that by this stage, Harrison - who took the woman home in a taxi - had received a text from her that morning saying what happened with his friends was not consensual.
When asked by Mr Hedworth about why Harrison didn't tell him during that lunch and why he "just stayed mum", Jackson said: "He didn't tell me. Rory is a very nice guy and I can guarantee that if he was worried he didn't want to worry me. He didn't want to cause me alarm or distress."
Mr Hedworth also suggested that at this lunch a decision was taken that "the ranks have to be closed." Jackson asked "what do you mean?", to which Mr Hedworth said the complainant "was concerned that if she went to report the matter to police, essentially it would be the word of your group against hers. She would be a silly little girl who had done something she regretted afterwards - and that's exactly what has happened. That's the stance that has been taken."
Jackson again denied this suggestion, and said "there was no stance." He was also accused by Mr Hedworth of being part of a group who assaulted the woman, and of then "grandstanding about what a fabulous night it has been" with friends on a WhatsApp conversation.