Belfast Telegraph

Tears at rugby rape trial as police interview with alleged victim shown

Woman tells of her initial reluctance to report claims over fears she'd be disbelieved

By Cate McCurry

A young woman allegedly raped by two Ireland and Ulster rugby stars broke down in tears after being shown footage of her police interview recorded days later.

The student was giving evidence on the fourth day at the trial of Paddy Jackson (26) and Stuart Olding (24).

Jackson, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and Olding, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Belfast Crown Court heard details of the hours and days after the alleged incident in which the young women spoke to friends and later reported the matter to police.

The jury of nine men and three women heard how the student initially told her friends she felt there was "no point" in going to the police.

The court heard about a series of text messages between the woman and a number of friends in the hours after the alleged incident. In one text the woman said: "No, I do not want to get the police involved. You know how that will turn out. It's my word against theirs."

She said Ulster Rugby would vouch for the good character of the accused, "and I'll just look like a stupid little girl".

Two other men have also been returned for trial on charges connected with the same incident alleged to have happened at a party following an evening in a Belfast nightclub on June 28, 2016.

Blane McIlroy (26), from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, has pleaded not guilty to one count of exposure, while Rory Harrison (25), from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

During yesterday's proceedings a police interview with the alleged victim was played to the court. The hour-long recording showed her describing in detail the moments leading up to and during the alleged attack.

Wiping away tears and in a distressed state, the student watched the footage of her speaking to a PSNI detective.

She told the officer: "(It's) because of who these people are I wasn't going to do anything. They are big names here."

In the video, recorded in June 2016, she described to the officer a forensic examination she underwent the day after the alleged incident.

"It was so painful. I had a tear and I was bleeding over the examination table. I'm still bleeding now," she said.

"I didn't want to be there. I was so embarrassed.

"I didn't want to have sex. I had not shaven anything. I just would not do that.

"There's absolutely no way I had intention of having sex that night."

The high profile case is being heard by Judge Patricia Smyth.

Under cross-examination from Jackson's barrister, Brendan Kelly QC, the woman was asked about text conversations she had with three friends during the morning and afternoon of June 28.

She agreed with Mr Kelly that she initially did not want to report the matter to police, telling friends she didn't think she would be believed.

When asked by friends to contact police she said in a text message: "No I do not want anyone to hear.

"I would just be embarrassed.

"It's my word against theirs. Ulster Rugby will vouch for their good character and I'll just look like a stupid little girl."

When questioned about the conversations she had with her friends about the alleged attack, Mr Kelly asked why the woman had not told those "nearest" to her that another female had walked into the bedroom as the alleged attack was happening.

"You had somebody who had walked in during the course of that attack. Why not mention that?" he asked. She replied: "Because the whole rape had been so traumatic that was what I had focused on.

"The fact that someone had walked in was secondary."

The woman later added: "Whenever the girl walked into the room, the stage that she walked in at, she had already missed the moment that those men crossed the line.

"She had not witnessed the blatant disregard for the fact that I did not want to have sex. The fact the girl walked into the room was not the main priority."

He asked her: "Were you concerned if you told them that they might not believe you?"

She answered: "Not at all."

The woman was further questioned about a visit to a clinic in the hours following the alleged attack. Mr Kelly asked why she had omitted some details about the incident, including her claim that she had been forced to give oral sex. Mr Kelly asked: "This was the first clinical account of what happened that day. Was it complete?"

"No," she replied.

"Why withhold information?"

She answered: "The counsellors made it clear to me I would go to the Rowan (sexual assault centre). It wasn't a case of withholding information.

"After this happened you are not thinking straight. I didn't get every single minute detail out. It's a very distressing situation."

Mr Kelly added: "No one at this point had been told about the oral sex."

When probed further as to why she had not told anyone about this, she said: "To me that was not rape.

"The rape happened in the early hours of that morning. I got back to my house and had not slept. I spent most of the day tossing and turning about what I was going to do. I suffered the humiliation of going through a forensic examination. I did not leave out details on purpose."

When further asked why she hadn't reported the oral offence to the medical staff at the Rowan centre, she said: "You are making this out to so sinister. I would like to make it clear in my police interview, when I was setting it out in stone, I highlighted all of this."

The case continues.

Belfast Telegraph

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