Northern Ireland

Rugby rape trial jury told to consider 'memory lapses'

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding arrive at court on Monday Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding deny raping the same woman in Mr Jackson's house in June 2016

The judge in the trial of two Ulster rugby players accused of rape has continued summing up in the case.

Speaking on day 40 of the trial, the judge said the jury needed to decide whether "memory lapses" by anyone involved in the case were genuine or not.

Paddy Jackson and fellow rugby player Stuart Olding are accused of raping the same woman in Mr Jackson's house, in the early hours of 28 June 2016.

They both deny the charges.

Judge Patricia Smyth told the eight men and three women of the jury panel: "Members of the jury, it is for you to decide where the truth lies."

She said that just because the 19-year-old woman was drunk that night, it did not mean "she must have been looking for, or was willing to have, sex".

'Genuine or simply a convenient excuse?'

She also told the jury: "A woman is entitled to say 'no' and decide what sexual activity she wants, how far she is prepared to go, what she does not want to do."

The judge said the jury had to decide whether to believe anyone in the case who could not remember aspects of the night in question.

"You are entitled to consider whether their lapses of memory are genuine or simply a convenient excuse to avoid having to explain their behaviour to you," she said.

During the eight-week trial, defence barristers have been critical of the police investigation.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Rory Harrison denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information

The judge said the evidence should be taken into consideration, but within the overall context of the trial.

She warned the jury that their job was not to "sit in judgement on the competency of the police or to punish them for any perceived failures".

The trial is now in its final stages.

Legal teams from the prosecution and defence finished summing up last week.

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Blane McIlroy denies one count of exposure

The judge began her summing-up on Friday and has indicated the jury will be sent out on Tuesday.

"This will not take very long tomorrow morning, then you will be asked to go out and begin your deliberations," she told the jury at the end of Monday's hearing.

The jury has been told that proceedings will begin at 10:00 BST, half an hour earlier than usual.

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

Stuart Olding, 25, 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 from police. He denies the charges.

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