Northern Ireland

Rugby rape trial: 'Inconsistencies' in alleged victim's accounts

Stuart Olding Image copyright PAcemaker
Image caption Stuart Olding denies one charge of rape

A detective who investigated rape allegations against two Ulster rugby players today admitted there were some "inconsistencies" in the alleged victim's accounts of what happened.

Stuart Olding's defence barrister told the court that what the 19-year-old woman told the police differed in part to what she told a doctor.

She was examined by the doctor a day after the alleged attack.

The examination took place at the Rowan Centre in Antrim.

Frank O'Donoghue QC, Mr Olding's defence barrister, put it to the police officer: "Was it not apparent there were significant inconsistencies between what the complainant said to the Rowan and what she was telling the police?"

"Yes there were," the officer replied.

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Image caption Paddy Jackson denies one count of rape and one count of sexual assault

The court was told there could be a number of different reasons for inconsistencies, including trauma and a fragmented memory.

Mr O'Donoghue said there were also "less plausible" reasons.

On Thursday, some of the notes taken by the police officer in charge of the overall investigation were read out in court.

The officer said she had "no explanation" as to why she made no note of when she was told there was a potential eyewitness to the alleged rape.

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

The alleged victim told police another woman came into the bedroom briefly.

In court on Thursday, the senior investigating officer was asked why she made no record in 110 pages of notes about when she was first told about the existence of a potential eyewitness.

"I have no explanation as to why it's not included," she said.

Under cross-examination by Paddy Jackson's barrister, Brendan Kelly QC, she said news about the potential eyewitness was relayed to her "some days" after one of her colleagues discovered the information.

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

Some of the senior officer's notes were read out in court.

One said: "The potential significance of this independent eyewitness account cannot be undervalued, and may assist the Prosecution and/or the Defence."

Clothes not seized

Earlier on Thursday the court heard that police did not seize the clothes Stuart Olding wore on the night of the alleged attack.

Mr Olding's house was searched after he was arrested and his defence barrister said the police knew exactly what he had been wearing.

At no stage in the investigation did they take away the clothing, he added.

Mr Olding and fellow rugby player Paddy Jackson are accused of raping the same woman in Mr Jackson's house.

The alleged attack took place in the early hours of 28 June 2016.

Two days later, Mr Olding was arrested at Musgrave Street PSNI station in central Belfast.

According to his defence barrister, Frank O'Donoghue QC, when he arrived at the police station Mr Olding was told to hand over his house keys, and without his knowledge, his home was then searched.

"He was never told his house was being searched," said Mr O'Donoghue.

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Image caption Rory Harrison denies all charges against him

Mr Olding had been wearing a blue shirt with white buttons, jeans and light brown shoes on the night of the alleged rapes.

He later told the police what he was wearing.

'No value'

The alleged victim also told the police, and pictures which were taken on the night were seen by police.

However, the clothing was never seized.

On Thursday, the investigating officer in the case was asked to explain why it was not taken.

She said his clothing "wouldn't have been an issue" in the case and there would have been no value in having it forensically tested.

Mr Olding and Mr Jackson were interviewed separately by the police - but in the same PSNI station, on the same night.

The allegations made by the 19-year-old woman at the centre of the case were put to them.

Mr O'Donoghue told the court that Mr Olding made it clear to the police that the sex act he engaged in with the woman had been "entirely consensual" and did not involve coaxing, force or violence.

Prosecution case concludes

The prosecution has now concluded its case after almost five weeks of evidence.

The jury was told by the judge on Thursday, that the defendants will have the opportunity to give evidence "if they wish" when the defence case begins on Monday.

At the end of day 24 of the trial, Judge Patricia Smyth told the 11-person jury that the four defendants will also be entitled to call witnesses on their behalf.

Legal arguments will be heard in court on Friday.

The jury has been told to return on Monday morning.

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 11-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.

The case is expected to last a further two weeks.

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