Belfast Telegraph

Rugby rape trial: 'I answered every police question truthfully,' defendant tells court

By Cate McCurry

Blane McIlroy has been accused of providing a "preposterous" story to police.

The 26-year-old denied claims he gave a "hatched up version" to officers investigating claims by a then 19-year-old woman that she was raped at a house party in Belfast.

Mr McIlroy, from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, told Belfast Crown Court that he answered every police question "truthfully".

He denies a charge of exposure.

His friends, rugby stars Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, deny raping the woman at Mr Jackson's house in June 2016 following a night out in Belfast.

As the trial drew to the end of its sixth week, prosecution barrister Toby Hedworth QC put it to the court that the accused got together hours after the alleged attack to concoct a story for police.

Mr Hedworth suggested that Mr McIlroy "got his lines wrong" and gave Mr Olding's account.

"Has the penny not dropped that even your own friends suggest that you got it wrong?" Mr Hedworth said.

Mr McIlroy replied: "I told the truth from the word go."

Mr Hedworth put it to Mr McIlroy that when he went upstairs to Mr Jackson's bedroom he was "wanting a slice of the action".

This week the jury has heard inconsistencies regarding what occurred in the bedroom from Mr Jackson, Mr Olding and Mr McIlroy.

Mr Hedworth later added: "Do you have any idea how preposterous your story is?"

"Can I make it clear this is complete fantasy island on your behalf, isn't it?"

Mr McIlroy replied: "No, it's not."

Mr Hedworth put to him: "This is you attempting to give a version to police after your friends have been arrested in respect of a serious sexual offence and you then find yourself arrested.

"You give what you think is meant to be your version of events."

He added: "Instead, you gave Stuart Olding's version of events."

Mr Hedworth continued: "You never engaged in sexual activity.

"There never was sexual activity involving you, but you thought your job was to give this version which was hatched up. You have delivered the wrong lines.

"You have put yourself there rather than Stuart Olding."

Mr McIlroy, however, denied this, telling the court that he told police "the truth".

Both Mr Olding and Mr Jackson attended Musgrave Park police station two days after the alleged sex attack.

When asked by Mr Harvey what he did on the evening of June 30, when police called him and asked him to also come to the station, Mr McIlroy answered: "After the police phoned me I went into the living room and told my parents everything that had happened from Paddy's house to the next day.

"My dad said 'go and tell the truth', and that's what happened."

He was also asked about messages he had deleted from his mobile phone before attending the police station.

He told the court: "When the police phoned me I panicked and thought they might not read well, but in hindsight I shouldn't have, there was no need."

Addressing a series of WhatsApp messages that were sent hours after the alleged rape, in which three other women at the party were referred to as "brasses", Mr McIlroy said the language used was "pretty stupid and idiotic".

"I'm not proud of it when I read it back," he added.

He was also asked about a message he sent to a 'Juicers' WhatsApp group, which consist of friends from America, where he sent a picture of himself and the three women with the caption 'love Belfast sluts'.

He told the jury: "I was just being stupid again and it was a silly comment to make. The girls obviously weren't."

A fourth male, Rory Harrison, denies a charge of withholding information and perverting the course of justice.

The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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