Belfast Telegraph

Rugby rape trial: Jury told 'it is for you to decide where the truth lies'

By Ashleigh McDonald

The eight men and three women of the jury presiding over a case in Belfast involving two Ulster Rugby players accused of rape were told "it is for you to decide where the truth lies."

As the trial entered its ninth week, Judge Patricia Smyth continued her summing up to the jury, where she set out the different versions of accounts that have been given regarding what happened in Paddy Jackson's bedroom in July 2016.

In her summing up - which she began last Friday and resumed on Monday - Judge Smyth once again told the jury the issue was one of consent.

The Judge said: "(The complainant) has told you she was vaginally raped and digitally penetrated by Paddy Jackson without her consent, and was orally raped by Stuart Olding. She said she was frozen with fear."

She also reminded the jury that the complainant said she "jumped off the bed and ran out of the room" when Blane McIlroy appeared naked and with his penis in his hand, asking her to engage in sexual activity with him."

The Judge added: "The defence case is that these allegations are false. (The complainant) made false allegations because she became involved in consensual group activity and feared she may have been filmed engaging in the acts."

Pointing out her account differed from the versions given by Jackson, Olding and McIlroy, the Judge told the jury it was their decision to determine where the truth lies.

Jackson claims she had oral sex with him, and has denied vaginal intercourse, saying he only used his fingers.

Olding claimed that after opening the bedroom door, she beckoned him in and performed oral sex in him until he ejaculated.

And McIlroy has made the case when he came into the bedroom, she masturbated him and briefly performed oral sex on him.

Jackson (26), from Oakleigh Park and 25-year old Stuart Olding, from Ardenlee Street, have both denied rape, while Jackson has denied a further charge of sexual assault.

McIlroy (25), of Royal Lodge Road has denies exposure while 25-year old Harrison, from Manse Road, has been charged with and denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

In her charge Judge Smyth raised the issue of alcohol, saying all the defendants as well as the complainant had been drinking prior to going to an afterparty in Jackson's home in the early hours of Tuesday June 28, 2016.

Asked to consider CCTV footage from Ollie's, Judge Smyth said that when she was cross-examined, the now 21-year old complainant said she was not interested in celebrities. The Judge also said that whilst the woman had been drinking, they were not to assume just because she had been drinking that she wanted sex.

Regarding the issue of alcohol, Judge Smyth said: "The reliability of all of the witnesses whose evidence was in dispute, you are entitled to consider whether their lapses in memory are genuine, or simply a convenient excuse to avoid having to explain their behaviour to you."

And whilst Judge Smyth noted defence criticisms of how they handled the investigation, she urged them not to judge "any perceived failures". Instead, she said, "your only task is to decide whether the prosecution has made you sure of the defendant's guilt. Do not let yourselves be distracted from that task."

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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