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Rape trial: Woman asked if she 'watered down' her prior knowledge of rugby players

The 21-year-old woman told the court she hadn’t diluted down her knowledge of rugby or the Ulster players.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.
Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.
Image: PA Images

A YOUNG WOMAN at the centre of a high-profile rape trial at Belfast Crown Court today denied “watering down” her knowledge of Ulster rugby and its players.

The 21-year old student has spent the last two days giving evidence from behind a screen, where she denied being attracted to celebrities.

Ireland and Ulster player Paddy Jackson (26) and his teammate Stuart Olding (24) are accused of raping the woman in the bedroom of Jackson’s south Belfast home in June 2016. Jackson is facing an additional charge of sexual assault. The pair deny all the charges.

The court was played a video consisting of CCTV footage taken from various locations at Ollie’s nightclub in the early hours of Tuesday 28 June 2016.

The woman and her friends attended the club as they were out celebrating the end of exams, whilst also in the same club were both Jackson and a group of friends, and also members of the Northern Ireland football team.

The woman, who was 19 at the time of the alleged sex attack, has already told the court that she has no interest in Ulster Rugby and has never been to a game. She has also revealed that around six months prior to the alleged incident, she has briefly met Jackson in a Belfast pub where she was working as a promotions girl.

The CCTV from Ollie’s was played and included footage from the VIP section, where the woman was seen socialising close to several Northern Ireland players.

Jackson, Olding and two other co-defendants – Blane McIlroy (26) and 25-year old Rory Harrison – were also partying at the same nightclub.

After leaving the club, the woman got into a taxi and went back to Jackson’s Oakleigh Park home for an after-party. In attendance were the woman, three other females she didn’t know, and the four men currently standing trial.

The woman claimed that after consensually kissing Jackson, she was then raped by both him and Olding, from Ardenlee Street.

She also claimed McIlroy also entered the room naked and with his penis out, and at this point her fight instinct kicked in and she fled.

McIlroy, from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, has been charged with exposing his genitals, while Harrison (25) from Manse Road, has been charged with perverting the course of justice, and withholding information. Both men deny the charges.

Under cross-examination by Jackson’s barrister Brendan Kelly QC, the woman was asked about Ollie’s. Reiterating the fact she had no interest in rugby, when she was asked whether she knew Jackson and other Ulster players were in the VIP area that night, she replied: “Not to my knowledge, no.”

She added: “We didn’t go into the VIP area with the intention of meeting a rugby player, if that’s what you’re insinuating.”

She also denied suggestions she had downplayed her knowledge of Ulster rugby players.

In the aftermath of the alleged rape, the woman exchanged several text and WhatsApp messages with friends.

Kelly QC read some of the texts to the court and jury. One of the woman’s friends advised in a text “just pretend you don’t know they are from rugby” and “pretend you have never seen them before”.

When asked by Kelly “Have you watered down either your following of rugby or your knowledge of the people who play?”, she answered:

Not at all. Mr Kelly, those words are not my words. I have no control over what my friend said. I have not watered down anything.

Kelly then asked her if she had been planning to attend an after-party with members of the Northern Ireland football team, as she was talking to some players in Ollie’s.

The barrister asked her “were you attracted to celebrities at the time?”, to which she replied: “No, I didn’t even know who those people were.” When asked “But you knew who Paddy Jackson was?” she responded: “I knew his name, yes, and I knew what he looked like, yes.”

The trial is due to resume next Monday.

Comments have been closed for legal reasons.

Read: Alleged rape victim of Irish rugby stars told police that incident left her ‘humiliated’

Read: Rape trial of rugby players hears alleged victim’s ‘fight instinct kicked in’ when third man entered room

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Ashleigh McDonald

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