Belfast Telegraph

Rugby rape trial: Juror could face arrest after making comments online following verdict

A juror in the Belfast rape trial involving rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding could face arrest and a contempt of court charge over comments made online following the trial's verdict.

The comments were made in the wake of a non-guilty verdict against all four defendants on all charges in the case.

In a statement posted online on Friday morning, the juror said: "I received a phone call yesterday from the office of The Lord Chief Justice in Belfast regarding comments I had made (online) I was asked if I had a lawyer, and that I am liable for arrest.

"I was instructed to contact (the website) to take down any reference to myself in regard to the ‘Ulster Rugby Rape Trial’ – I was the foreperson on the jury."

The juror further added: "The comments I made referring to the case were within the parameters of the judge’s discharge to all the jurors – the one thing she said, 'Do not reveal conversations or discussions that occurred in the jury room'.

"Following my comments (...) there is now an order, delivered to me yesterday, by the Judge, Patricia Smyth QC for the jury members to not comment on this case at all."

A spokesman for the office of the Attorney General confirmed to the Belfast Telegraph on Friday morning the issue had been referred to it by the office of the Lord Chief Justice.

It is understood no further action will be taken on Friday.

A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: "We are aware of comments made on a social media platform."

The Irish Times, who first reported the story, said the remarks had appeared in the comments section of an article on a forum.

After contacting the Public Prosecution Service about the remarks, the newspaper was told the issue had been referred to the Lord Chief Justice - Northern Ireland's most senior judge.

The first comment was made at 8.26pm on Thursday evening, around eight hours after the verdict was delivered.

The juror contacted the Irish Times and said they had made the comments as it was their understanding the only thing they were not permitted to discuss at the time were the deliberations in the jury room.

A report carried in Friday's Belfast Telegraph reveals that police are investigating two people for allegedly naming the woman at the centre of the rape trial on social media.

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