Belfast Telegraph

Rape trial evidence does not remotely prove rugby star’s guilt, court told

Stuart Olding’s defence barrister said the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.

Evidence presented in the rape trial of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players does not come close to proving the guilt of Stuart Olding, his defence barrister has told a court.

In his closing submission, Frank O’Donoghue QC said the burden of proof lies with the prosecution.

He said: “It does not come remotely near the required standard to render you sure that Stuart Olding orally raped the complainant in June 2016.”

Directing his remarks towards the jury of eight men and three women at Belfast Crown Court, Mr O’Donoghue also warned they must decide the case on reliability of evidence, not the credibility of the complainant.

“If, on the evidence, you cannot be sure, then it is your duty to acquit.

“We, the court, the jury, must never be party to any miscarriage of justice. We must avoid that at all costs.”

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Belfast courts stock

Olding, 25, from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, denies raping a woman at a house party in June 2016.

His team-mate, Paddy Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park in the city, also denies rape and sexual assault.

Two others are also charged with offences connected to the alleged rape.

Blane McIlory, 26, from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, denies exposure, while Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The prosecution allege that Olding forced the woman to perform oral sex, the court was told.

However Mr O’Donoghue suggested: “Mr Olding has made the case that the act was entirely consensual.”

The lawyer invited jurors to “study the evidence” in order to “root out” inconsistencies.

He said: “Do not judge the book by its cover. Do not assume that because an account appears plausible it must therefore be true.”

The case continues.

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