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Investigation under way after juror in rugby rape trial made comments online

The juror potentially faces a charge of contempt of court.

Paddy Jackson (left) and Stuart Olding were both found not guilty, alongside the other two defendants.
Paddy Jackson (left) and Stuart Olding were both found not guilty, alongside the other two defendants.
Image: Niall Carson/PA Images

A MEMBER OF the jury from the Belfast rape trial involving two rugby players could potentially face a contempt of court charge over comments they made online.

It is understood the Lord Chief Justice became aware of the comments put on Broadsheet.ie, and instructed the juror to take them down.

The Attorney General’s office in Northern Ireland told TheJournal.ie that the case has been referred to it by the Lord Chief Justice and, as first reported in today’s Irish Times, it will now consider whether the comments made amount to a contempt of court.

In a statement posted on Broadsheet.ie this morning, the juror said: “I received a phone call yesterday from the office of The Lord Chief Justice in Belfast regarding comments I had made on Broadsheet.ie. I was asked if I had a lawyer and I was told that I am liable for arrest.

I was instructed to contact Broadsheet to take down any reference to myself in regard to the ‘Ulster Rugby Rape Trial’ – I was the foreperson on the jury. Broadsheet reacted momentarily to comply.

A PSNI spokesperson told TheJournal.ie: “We are aware of comments made on a social media platform.”

The case comes after a 9-week trial that was closely followed by the media and general public, and the verdict has generated huge commentary around issues of justice and consent.

On Wednesday, Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson (26) and Stuart Olding (24) were found not guilty of raping the complainant in the case – a now 21-year-old female student – in the early morning of Tuesday 28 June 2016.

Jackson was also found not guilty of sexually assaulting the then-19-year-old.

A friend of the rugby pair -  Blane McIlroy (26) – was found not guilty of exposure.

The fourth man,  25-year-old Rory Harrison, was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information in the aftermath of the incident.

All four were found not guilty of all charges against them on Wednesday by the jury of eight men and three women.

Read: 9 weeks, 2 days: The key moments of the rugby rape trial

Read: ‘Any possibility of a threesome?’: The growing use of text messages in Ireland’s criminal investigations

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Sean Murray

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