Northern Ireland

Rugby rape trial: Woman breaks down giving evidence

Paddy Jackson (left) and Stuart Olding arriving at court on Wednesday Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Paddy Jackson (left) and Stuart Olding both deny the charges against them

A woman who has accused two Ulster rugby players of raping her has broken down in court while giving evidence about the case.

The 21-year-old, who was 19 at the time of the alleged attacks, appeared at Belfast Crown Court.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, who both deny the charges against them, listened in the dock as the woman gave evidence against them.

The woman said that she was first attacked by Mr Jackson.

Giving evidence from behind a curtain, she sobbed as she told the court: "He knew I did not want this to happen and he kept going."

'Power and control'

The woman said the rape happened in a bedroom at Paddy Jackson's house in June 2016 after a night out at a nightclub in Belfast.

She said Stuart Olding later came into the bedroom and he attacked her too.

The woman told the court: "No-one should have to go through what I went through."

She added: "Rape is a game of power and control. They rely on your silence. You only take back the power when you actually do something about it."

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption Blane McIlroy (left) and Rory Harrison both deny the charges against them

At one point in the proceedings, Judge Patricia Smyth asked the woman if she wanted to take a break because she was so upset.

But she said she wanted to continue.

'You just freeze'

She said that on the night in question, she had kissed Paddy Jackson in an upstairs bedroom earlier in the evening at his house.

She said: "It was completely consensual but it was instigated by Patrick Jackson."

"Patrick Jackson tried to undo my trousers. I told him firmly I wasn't interested and went back downstairs."

Image copyright PA/Press Eye
Image caption Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have both been capped for Ireland

She was asked by lead prosecution QC Toby Hedworth if Mr Jackson tried "to take matters further"?

"No" she said.

But she said he forced himself on her later in the evening.

He followed her upstairs when she went up to retrieve her clutch bag, and he attacked her, the court heard.

Describing the start of the alleged attack, she said: "In that moment, you think you are going to kick and scream and fight.

"But it doesn't work that way. Look, you just freeze. I knew where this was going but it just happened so quickly."

Image caption The trial is taking place at Belfast's Crown Court

When Stuart Olding came into the room, she said she pleaded for the attack to stop.

"I looked at Patrick Jackson straight in the eyes and said: 'Please, no, not him as well".

She said that a medical check later revealed that she had suffered "internal damage".

She said at first she had been reluctant to go to the police.

She said: "You just think they're not going to believe you."

Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Ulster Rugby's Craig Gilroy (left), Iain Henderson and Rory Best pictured going into Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday

But now she says she is glad she did so.

"It's the best decision I made," she said.

Asked if she had known Paddy Jackson before agreeing to go back to his house with a group of six other people, she said she had met him once before briefly.

But she added: "I don't follow rugby. I've never been to an Ulster rugby match."

She said that on the night in question, she consumed a large glass-and-a-half of wine, and three double vodkas.

Denial of charges

The woman gave evidence for more than an hour, with the curtain shielding her from most of the court.

The defendants, media and people in the public gallery were able to watch her giving evidence on a screen.

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 charges.

The case continues.