Belfast Telegraph

Rugby rape trial: 'Jackson would be the last person in the world to rape someone': Harrison

 

A friend of two rugby players accused of perverting the course of justice and withholding information about an alleged rape, stated that Jackson would be the last person in the world to rape someone.

Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, in Belfast denies the charges against him.

He described being “fairly drunk” and could not remember getting back to Paddy Jackson’s south Belfast house where the rape is alleged to have happened on June 28, 2016.

Answering questions from his defence barrister Gavan Duffy QC, he described being “good friends” with rape accused Jackson.

“He’s a good friend of mine, I would not get to see him very much until this had all begun,” he said.

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Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson (Niall Carson/PA)

Asked about his relationship with Stuart Olding, who is also accused of rape, he answered: “I am friendly with him but I would not see him very often, and any time I would have it would be through Patrick.”

Blane McIlroy, who is accused of exposure, has also been a “friend” since school days at Belfast’s Methodist College, the court heard.

Harrison spoke of memory gaps in the night due to alcohol consumption.

He drank six cans of beer, four pints of Guinness, a few gin and tonics, four or five vodkas and lemonade and a few shots during the course of the night in question.

Asked about his memory of leaving Ollies nightclub, he replied: “Not a huge amount.”

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Stuart Olding arrives at Belfast Crown Court (Niall Carson/PA)

When he returned to Jackson’s house, he spent the bulk of his time beside a speaker playing music, the court heard.

Harrison told the court the complainant had been "staring" at Ireland rugby player Jackson during the party where the rape is alleged to have happened on June 28 2016.

He said: "I think she was looking at Paddy. It is something that I would notice on a night out, that people would look at him because he is recognisable and famous."

He added: "I noticed it and I thought she was staring a bit longer considering we were at the house and she knew he was there."

He told the court he saw the woman "follow" Jackson upstairs.

He said: "Yes, I noticed (the complainant) following him up.

"After I seen her stare at him I thought that's where she was going, that's maybe why she was following him."

Jackson would be the "last person" to rape someone, Harrison told Belfast Crown Court, answering questions from his defence barrister Mr Duffy.

He was asked about his reaction to a message from the complainant hours after the alleged attack, in which she told him what happened was not consensual.

Harrison said: "My initial reaction was shock that something had happened she was not consenting to.

"The more I thought about it, I have known Patrick since I was eight or nine. He is the last person in the world to rape someone.

"I didn't believe it. I thought she had maybe done something and then regretted it."

Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast and Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street in the city deny raping the same woman on June 28, 2016.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast has pleaded not guilty to exposure while Harrison has pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The case continues.

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