Belfast Telegraph

Rape trial: Paddy Jackson says he’d 'have freaked out if I’d thought a woman left my house upset... I’d have gone to help'

WARNING: These reports contain details which some readers might find upsetting

By Cate McCurry

The Ireland and Ulster Rugby player at the centre of a rape trial has told a court he would have "completely freaked out" if a woman left his house crying and upset.

Taking the stand on the opening day of the defence case, Paddy Jackson (26), who denies forcing a young student to have sex with him, claimed that the alleged victim was "flirting" with him during a party at his home.

Mr Jackson, from Oakleigh Park, is currently on trial at Belfast Crown Court charged with raping and sexually assaulting the woman in his bedroom following a night out at Ollie's nightclub in June 2016.

The rugby star gave evidence for several hours from the witness box, where he recalled the events leading up to and during the alleged rape.

The jury heard how, the day before the alleged incident, Mr Jackson had returned from a tour of South Africa with Ireland. He told the court he had been looking forward to a four-week break from rugby and had planned on going on a summer holiday with a few of his friends.

The court also heard details of his schooling and professional career with Ulster Rugby and Ireland, as well as his charitable work.

The accused described his close friendships with some well-known players, including Ireland skipper Rory Best.

His barrister Brendan Kelly QC asked about his friendship with Mr Best, and how he would have babysat his children.

Mr Jackson replied: "Yeah, I would, and I got invited to his son's sixth birthday."

Mr Jackson also described co-accused Stuart Olding as a "very close friend", having met at the Ulster Rugby Academy. He has been friends with Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison, who are also facing charges connected to the incident, since school.

Mr Olding (24), from Ardenlee Street in the city, denies raping the same woman. Mr Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Mr McIlroy (26), from Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, denies exposure, while Mr Harrison (25), from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Mr Kelly asked Mr Jackson if he was "party to a violent attack" on the alleged victim.

"Are you a violent person?" he asked.

Mr Jackson replied: "No, I have never been violent.

"I have never been in a fight, I'm not an aggressive person. I have never thrown a punch."

Mr Jackson was asked for his version of events at the house party and when he first came into contact with the complainant. He told the court he was sitting on a sofa when he turned and saw her sitting on the opposite side.

"She was looking at me and I smiled at her," he said.

When asked what her reaction was to him, Mr Jackson said: "She was looking at me. I didn't really think it was strange at the time."

When asked about her attention, he said: "It was very much focused on me, and it got my attention. We were flirting with each other. If I went into the kitchen she followed me. It seemed very innocent and normal. I remember her following me to the kitchen a few times. It was very flirty."

He added that on a few occasions she was "very close" to him.

"I got the impression she liked me," he added. "It was nice and I liked her back."

He described to the court how the complainant followed him up to his bedroom where they started kissing. "Our bodies were very close and we were passionately kissing," he said.

He added that they stopped after a while, and she pulled away, asking if he knew her name.

"I didn't respond because it was awkward. I didn't know her name. I kind of tried to shrug it off," he added.

"She asked again and I said I didn't know her name. She pulled away. She was doing it in a jokey way."

Mr Jackson claims he left the room and returned to the party downstairs. He said that at no stage did the victim say "no" to him, and added that after returning to the party the alleged victim "came up close to me".

"We were almost face-to-face. Then she ran her fingernails down my right arm," he said.

"I think it was her way of getting my attention again. She got my attention again.

"It was quite nice when she did it."

The court heard how the flirtatious behaviour continued and after a short time he went back to his room, claiming that the alleged victim again followed him.

He went on to describe how they kissed in his bedroom before moving on to his bed.

"We were kissing for a while and she started to bite my lower lip," he told the court. "It was playful, but it was pretty hard."

He further claimed that the claimant began kissing his neck before undoing his trousers and pulling them and his boxers down to his knees. In his evidence, he claimed that she performed oral sex on him.

The lawyer asked if there were any signs that the complainant was "enjoying" what was happening.

Mr Jackson said: "She was doing it. She was enjoying it."

He was later asked if there had been any resistance to "inserting your hand or fingers" inside the complainant.

"No, none at all," he said.

The barrister added: "Was there any movement away from that activity by her?"

"No," answered Mr Jackson.

The court heard that Mr Olding walked into the room while the woman was on top of Mr Jackson "performing oral sex".

When asked what happened, Mr 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'.

"He came over and there was an interaction between them. Her attention went from me to Stuart."

The barrister asked: "Was there an intention to have penile intercourse?"

Mr Jackson said: "I thought it was leading to that, yes."

Sexual intercourse, however did not happen because he could not find a condom after the complainant asked for one.

Mr Jackson said: "She asked for a condom. I looked in the wardrobe. I was looking for a condom and couldn't find one."

Meanwhile, he was also questioned about the presence of blood and whether he believed it had been associated with pain.

Mr Jackson said: "I would have stopped. I would have asked her if she was okay, tried to comfort her. If there was any pain I would have tried to help her."

He also denied trying to put his whole hand inside her, describing it as "revolting" and something "I would never do".

He was also asked about claims that the woman was upset while leaving his home in the early hours of the morning.

Mr Kelly said: "You said if you saw her upset you would have looked after her?"

He replied: "I know I would have done that. The last thing I would want is a girl crying and leaving my house.

"I would have completely freaked out. I would have gone to help her. If I had have known she was upset I would have tried to contact her.

"For the fear of this, I would have been aware of stuff like this happens."

The trial continues.

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