Belfast Telegraph

Rugby rape allegation 'a throwback to days of male entitlement'

By Ashleigh McDonald

A jury presiding over a trial involving two rugby players accused of rape were told today that what happened in the bedroom of Paddy Jackson's south Belfast home was "a throwback to the days of male entitlement."

As he summed up the Crown's case to the jury of eight men and three women, prosecuting barrister Toby Hedworth QC said it didn't matter what school the defendants went to, or how successful their rugby careers were.

Rather, the barrister said, what was important was that "overbearing drunk young men ... with their passions raised", used a then 19-year old for their own sexual gratification even thought they knew "she didn't consent, but they simply were not interested."

Now in its seventh week, the jury has already heard the 21-year old complainant made the case that whilst attending an afterparty at Jackson's Oakleigh Park home following a night out in the VIP section at Ollie's, she was raped from behind by Jackson whilst being forced to perform oral sex on his Ulster Rugby teammate Stuart Olding (24), from Ardenlee Street.

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Rory Harrison

Both men have denied the charge, while 26-year old Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault. The pair claim any activity was consensual.

The complainant also claimed that as this attack was coming to an end, Blane McIlroy appeared in the bedroom, naked, with his penis in his hand and demanding sex. He has been charged with, and denies, exposure.

Hammering home to the jury the woman's claim that what happened was not consensual, Mr Hedworth said: "The law of this land says that a young woman is allowed to say no and any such no not only should be heeded but it must be heeded."

"The law does not say 'oh well, you let me kiss you so I can force myself upon you' and the male will decide how far thing will do. The law is not 'if she was up for something then I and my friends, if they fancy, can in effect do as I and they please.'

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Blaine McIlroy

"The world has moved on. Unfortunately the behaviour of some in our society has not. What happened in the bedroom of Patrick Jackson's bedroom in the early hours of Tuesday the 28th of June represents, we say, a throwback to the days of male entitlement."

Saying this case was not about 'me too' or gender politics, Mr Hedworth said the crux of the trial was about the conduct of Jackson, Olding and McIlroy against a woman whose views were not sought. The prosecutor also spoke of Rory Harrison's conduct in the aftermath of the incident.

The 25-year old, from Manse Road, has been charged with and denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information. Mr Hedworth said that rather than being a knight in shining armour who came to the woman's assistance and brought her home, he was more concerned about impeding the police investigation and protecting his friends- even when he was aware the woman said what happened to her with his friends was non-consensual.

Rejecting the defence's assertion that the woman was "trying to bag a celebrity" in Ollie's before going back to the party at Jackson's, Mr Hedwroth reminded the jury that the complainant made it quite clear she was not interested in either Northern Ireland footballers or Ulster Rugby players.

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Paddy Jackson

In his summary to the jury, Mr Hedworth asked the members to consider the vastly differing versions of events given by all four defendants. And while he accepted there were inconsistencies in the accounts the woman gave in the aftermath of the incident, Mr Hedworth said this was not uncommon with rape victims who often experience "misguided shame, trauma and shock."

The prosecutor asked then to consider the evidence of the taxi driver who picked Harrison and the young woman up, and who noted a female sobbing and crying throughout the journey. He asked them to consider the one-cm tear to the woman's vaginal wall, and also to consider why the woman's first concern was obtaining the morning after pill - despite the defendant's claims that nobody penetrated her with a penis.

Mr Hedworth said: "And so Patrick Jackson and Stuart Olding. Who cares where they went to school? Who cares about what junior team they played rugby for? Who cares which academy team they played for? Who cares about their level of success on the rugby field?

"It matters not whether you are a prince or a pauper. You are just as capable of getting yourself extremely drunk and doing something, no doubt, in the cold light of day, realise the consequences for yourself, you may come to regret."

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Stuart Olding

The prosecutor asked the jury to decided whether or not the four men in the dock were "legends". He also asked the jury to give "careful, thorough consideration" to the evidence they have heard, adding "you can and shall be satisfied ... that each of the allegations are proved. If this is so, we invite you to return the appropriate verdicts of guilty."

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