Northern Ireland

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding: Alleged victim's friend gives evidence

Stuart Olding (left) and Paddy Jackson (right) arriving at court on Thursday Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Both Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson deny raping the woman

A close friend of the woman who has accused two Ulster rugby players of rape has denied encouraging the alleged victim to lie about what happened.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding deny raping the same woman at Mr Jackson's house in south Belfast in the early hours of 28 June 2016.

A text message the woman received from her friend in the wake of the alleged attacks was read out in court.

"Just pretend you don't know them from rugby," the message stated.

"Pretend you've never seen them before."

'Rape is rape'

In court, the woman who sent the message explained what it meant.

She said: "The meaning behind it is that it doesn't matter what someone's profession is. Rape is rape."

Under cross-examination, she insisted she had not been encouraging the woman to lie.

"I would never have told my friend to lie. Never," she replied.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Blane McIlroy denies one count of exposure

The alleged victim was 19 at the time. She is now 21.

The court was told that she had exchanged texts with another friend on the subject of rape 12 days before she says she was attacked.

In the text to the friend, she wrote: "Nine of ten rapes go unreported.''

Her friend later responded "just got to find a way to blackmail or stab them''.

'Wouldn't lie to me'

In court on Thursday, the friend played down the significance of the text and insisted: "That was clearly a joke.''

The friend was the first person the woman told about the alleged attacks.

She told the court the alleged victim "wouldn't lie to me".

On the night of the alleged attacks, they had been together earlier in the evening at Ollie's nightclub in the centre of Belfast.

The court was again shown CCTV footage from the club on the night in question.

The two friends did not leave together.

One went to a nearby McDonalds fast-food outlet, the other went back to Paddy Jackson's house with a group of other people whom she did not know.

The court was told that while the alleged victim was at the house, at 03:04 BST she sent her friend a text.

It read: "Am back at Paddy Jackson's."

The friend replied: "Ha.Ha. How and why?" She did not get a response.

After the woman got home, she texted her friend at 09:51 BST telling her she had been raped.

Together, they later tried to find a rape crisis centre in Belfast but when they could not find one, they instead went to the Brook Clinic, a sexual health advisory centre.

Liam McAlorum, a senior counsellor at the Brook Clinic, spoke to her and in his report of the meeting he wrote: "No marks or obvious signs of physical violence."

It was not an "intimate" assessment, he told the court on Thursday.

Image copyright Press Eye
Image caption Rory Harrison denies charges of perverting the course of justice and withholding information

Deny all charges

Mr Jackson, 26, from Belfast's Oakleigh Park, is charged with one count of rape and one count of sexual assault. He denies the charges.

Mr Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street, Belfast, is also charged with rape. He too denies the charge.

Two other men have also been charged in connection with the case.

Blane McIlroy, 26, of Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, is charged with one count of exposure. He denies the charge.

Rory Harrison, 25, of Manse Road, Belfast is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information. He denies the charge.

The 12-person jury has been told by Judge Patricia Smyth to wait until they hear all of the evidence in the case before coming to any final conclusions.

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