Belfast Telegraph

Rugby rape trial verdicts: PSNI to investigate naming of complainant on social media

Superintendent Paula Hilman
Superintendent Paula Hilman

The PSNI has said it is investigating the naming of the complainant in the rugby rape trial on social media

Ireland and Ulster rugby duo Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were found not guilty of raping a 19-year-old student in June 2016. Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison were also cleared of all charges against them.

Police said the complainant was "upset and disappointed" with the verdict.

Speaking following the acquittals, Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman said reports of rape had increased during the trial.

She said: “I would like to pay tribute to the young woman who had the resolve and confidence to come forward and put her faith in police and the criminal justice process. 

“In addition to this, she was named on social media sites during the trial contrary to her legal entitlement. Any breach of this entitlement is and will be investigated.”

Paddy Jackson’s solicitor Joe McVeigh, speaking outside court, claimed his client was prosecuted because of his status as an international rugby player.

DCS Hilman rejected the claim, adding: “We carry out investigations regardless of standing or status.”

She continued: “A dedicated and specialised team of police officers and staff from the Rape Crime Unit, led by Detective Chief Inspector Zoe McKee, all worked diligently on this case.  I want to thank these officers and staff for their hard work and commitment.

“I would also like to acknowledge and thank the Public Prosecution Service for their professionalism and expertise throughout.

“This case has provoked much comment and debate. While we respect today’s verdict it should not deter victims of serious sexual crime from contacting police.

“As police officers our role is to keep people safe.  Anyone can be the victim of sexual crime regardless of age, background, status or gender.

“There is no room in society for tolerance of sexual crime. 

"We understand how difficult it can be for someone to report a rape, but let me assure you today that if you choose to speak to police, you will be listened to, respected, treated sensitively, have your report thoroughly investigated, and you will be signposted to support services such as Nexus and Victim Support among others.”

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