Paddy Jackson denies 'concocting' story with friends in response to rape accusation

Paddy Jackson has denied "concocting" a story with his friends to cover their tracks in case of rape allegations.

The Irish rugby international was giving evidence on the 28th day of his high profile trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Arthur Harvey QC, representing Blane McIlroy who is contesting an exposure charge, put it to the court: "The allegation that has been suggested is that when you were in Soul Food on the afternoon on June 28 (2016) that you, Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison concocted together a version of events which would satisfy any police inquiries into allegations of rape against you and the others.

"Did that happen?"

Jackson said: "No that did not happen."

Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park, Belfast, and Stuart Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman in south Belfast in June 2016.

Blane McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, denies exposure while Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Blane McIlroy

Jackson spent several hours giving evidence as the defence teams opened their case.

He was quizzed about close friendships with the co-accused. However, he told the court that neither McIlroy or Rory Harrison had revealed, the day after the alleged attack, that the woman had apparently been "distressed".

He said: "Sitting here now, yeah it's disappointing. But I trust them. If they did not tell me, it is because they did not think it was as serious as it clearly is now."

Jackson also said he was not informed by Harrison that the complainant had reportedly said what happened had not been consensual.

"He did not tell me," said Jackson. "Rory is a very nice guy and if he was worried he would not want to worry me or cause me any alarm or distress."

He was also asked about prosecution claims that his friends and team mates had effectively "closed ranks" after allegations emerged.

Toby Hedworth QC said: "(The complainant) was concerned that if she was to report the matter to the police that essentially it would be the word of your group against her. She'd be the silly little girl who had done something then regretted it. And that's exactly the stance that has been taken?"

Jackson responded: "No, it's not. There's not stance."

Later the court heard how Ulster Rugby did not provide Jackson with a solicitor or contact him while he was in police custody.

Defence QC Brendan Kelly asked: "Was there any pulling of ranks as far as Ulster Rugby was concerned?"

Jackson replied: "No there wasn't."

Rory Harrison

Meanwhile, Jackson was also asked about his level of intoxication on the night in question.

He had consumed beer, gin and tonic and some "shots", the court heard.

Prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC said: "Do you accept that being a gifted sportsman is not a defence to the charges that you face?

"And being involved in charitable work is not a defence to the charges that you face?

"And being drunk or having drink is not a defence to the charges that you face?

"But being drunk is perhaps an explanation for the charges that you face, is it not?"

Having rejected all the previous questions, Jackson then interjected: "Sorry, what do you mean?"

The lawyer stated: "You recall that a doctor called by the defence gave evidence and said how alcohol reduces inhibitions and about how it makes people do things they would not normally do.

"It makes people do unacceptable things that in the cold, sober light of day they maybe shouldn't have done. That's what you did isn't it Mr Jackson?"

The defendant replied: "No, not at all."

The case continues.

Update 5.30: Paddy Jackson forced himself on woman, prosecution in rugby rape trial claims

Paddy Jackson

Irish rugby international Paddy Jackson has rejected suggestions he "forced himself on" then "pushed and pushed" a woman who has accused him of rape.

The 26-year-old, who denies rape and sexual assault, was giving evidence at his trial in Belfast Crown Court.

Prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC said: "I suggest that you forced yourself on her then beckoned your friend Stuart Olding to join in when she made it quite apparent to you that she did not want any sexual activity with anyone."

Jackson replied: "No, it was quite the opposite."

The barrister added: "You just pushed and pushed beyond what that young woman was prepared to do."

Jackson, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, spent several hours in the witness box of courtroom number 12 in the Laganside complex where the high profile trial has been heard over the past six weeks.

The rape is alleged to have taken place at a party in Jackson's home during the early hours of June 28, 2016.

The complainant had flirted, following him from room to room and at one point running her fingernails along his arm, Jackson claimed.

He was attracted to her, he admitted.

"We had caught each other's attention," he said.

The pair engaged in consensual "passionate" kissing in an upstairs bedroom, but it ended when she realised Jackson did not know her name.

Sometime later however, Jackson said she followed him upstairs for a second time.

"I went upstairs, I hoped she would follow and she did," he said.

Suggesting he had been playing a game of "cat and mouse", Mr Hedworth said: "How it happened was that young woman went upstairs and you followed?"

"No, I didn't" Jackson interjected.

You thought she was a bit of a tease?" added Mr Hedworth.

"Did you think this time I am not going to take no for an answer?"

Jackson responded: "No I didn't."

Jackson, who has 25 Irish caps, was dressed in grey trousers, a navy jumper and open necked shirt. He was escorted from the dock into the witness box by a prison guard.

He swore an oath on the Bible before answering questions from prosecution and defence counsel.

His parents and other family members, who have supported him every day of the trial, were seated in the front row of the packed public gallery.

Probing for further detail of the alleged sexual activity in the bedroom, Mr Hedworth said: "You inch back, sit down and she takes over?"

"Yes," answered Jackson.

"She undid your trousers. Pulls your trousers and boxers down to your knees and then she starts to fellate you?"

"Yes," the defendant said.

The lawyer then asked if the woman appeared to enjoy what was happening, adding: "What was she getting out of it?"

"She did it. She was doing it so she must have," replied Jackson.

Stuart Olding

Meanwhile, the court also heard that when his Ireland and Ulster rugby team mate Stuart Olding walked into the room, Jackson, who claims to have been receiving oral sex, waved to say "hi".

"I didn't ask him or beckon him into the room. It was just a smile," he said.

"He walked in but it was not because of me. I do not know the interaction with her."

Jackson then took his trousers off because he thought the activity was "going to lead somewhere".

"Probably sex or more sexual activity," he added.

He touched her with his hands, but did not penetrate her with his penis because no condom could be found, the court was told.

However, Mr Hedworth suggested: "The reality is, I suggest that you then penetrated (the complainant) with your penis?"

Jackson answered: "No, I didn't."

Mr Hedworth continued: "From behind, which is exactly what Dara Florence saw when she blurts her way into the room looking for her friend, 100% certain that you are having vaginal sex with the female on the bed.

"You had resisted that temptation with that woman in that position, not to put your penis inside her.

"Nothwithstanding the amount of drink you had taken, you were showing complete restraint?"

"Yes," Jackson answered.

Pressing further, Mr Hedworth questioned if the complainant had shown any interest in Stuart Olding earlier in the night - either staring, being fixated with or following him, as she is alleged to have done with Jackson.

"Yet, she's straight away kissing him and performing oral sex?" asked the lawyer.

"Yes," said Jackson.

After Olding left the room, it was claimed Jackson and the woman lay on the bed together, with Jackson floating in an out of sleep.

He could not remember another friend Blane McIlroy entering the room.

"You apparently fall asleep," said Mr Hedworth. "You have no consciousness of Mr McIlroy ever coming into the room?"

"No," said Jackson.

He woke up to find the woman putting her clothes on, but at no point was she distressed, he claimed.

"She wasn't," he said.

Later, the court heard Jackson had woken up the following morning "happy".

He met his friends for lunch and went out drinking again.

"The night happened as it happened and I woke up happy with what had happened," he said.

"You were happy with a bit of spit roasting?" asked Mr Hedworth.

Jackson replied: "Threesome or spit-roast."

Jackson understood the slang term "spit roast" to involve a woman and two men, with one receiving oral sex while the other penetrates the woman with either his penis or his hands.

Jackson and Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, deny raping the same woman. Jackson denies a further count of sexual assault.

Blane McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, denies exposure while Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road in Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The case has been adjourned until Thursday.

Rugby star Jackson is a good guy, friend tells court

Rugby star Paddy Jackson has been described as a "good guy" by a lifelong family friend.

Dr Katie Donaldson, a registrar in intensive care, was called as a character witness for Jackson during his rape trial at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

Ms Donaldson, who said she had known Jackson for 15 or 16 years, told the court she had never seen him lose his temper.

"Paddy is always very considerate in his interactions with people. He is calm, very friendly and enjoys making people laugh. He's a good guy," she said.

"I don't think his character has changed in the time I have known him. It is always the same - kind, caring and very generous," added Ms Donaldson.

She told the court that Jackson's sporting success has "never been driven by people admiring him."

"I don't think privilege or accolade have ever driven him.

"He has had a likeable lack of self-importance during the time I have known him.

"His interactions with me, my friends, my brother and sister is always calm, considerate, caring and polite," she added.

When asked by his defence team if she ever saw him lose his temper, she replied: "No I haven't."

Update 2.10pm: 'I didn't see her upset' - Paddy Jackson gives evidence in Ulster rape trial

Ireland international rugby player Paddy Jackson has taken the stand on the opening day of the defence case at his rape trial in Belfast.

The 26-year-old, who denies raping a woman at a house party in south Belfast in 2016, told Belfast Crown Court he was not a violent person and had never thrown a punch.

He said: "I have never been in a fight before. I am not an aggressive person."

Jackson (pictured below) denies rape and sexual assault during an incident in June 2016.

Three other men charged in connection with the same incident also deny the charges against them.

Jackson said he was excited but also felt pressure to represent Ireland in South Africa in April 2016.

"I was very excited but also felt a lot of pressure. This was a big opportunity for me so there was a lot of nerves.

"I felt a lot of pressure going into it. This was my chance. Rugby is my passion. I saw it as my chance to put my name on the big stage."

He told the court on the team's last day in South Africa they relaxed by the pool and had a few drinks.

"We had the whole day sitting by the pool having a few drinks before we flew home. I would have been a bit drunk but it was more sitting in the sun and relaxing."

They flew home to Dublin that night.

Jackson told the court that after the nightclub he went home with his friends and three girls, who he did not know.

"The guys would always go back to my house after a night out. I didn't know the girls in the cab."

He said in his house, music was playing.

"It was very relaxed," he said.

Jackson told the court he remembered smiling at the alleged victim.

"She was looking at me. I didn't think it was strange at the time.

"We were flirting with each other. If I went to the kitchen she followed me. It seemed normal. It was very much flirting between both of us."

He said he got the impression that she liked him.

"It was nice. I liked her back. I went upstairs. I remember part of me thinking she might follow me upstairs. She did".

Jackson said the pair kissed "passionately" on the edge of the bed until the alleged victim pulled away and asked if he knew her name.

"I didn't know her name. It was a bit embarrassing at the time. I got up and went downstairs. I wanted to be back in the party."

Jackson said back upstairs he and the female began to kiss.

"It was quite passionate. We were both kissing each other. It got a bit more passionate. When I was lying on the bed (she) was on top of me. She started to bite my lower lip. It was playful but pretty hard."

He claimed the woman then performed oral sex on him. Olding then walked in, he said.

"It was a bit embarrassing. I kind of smiled at him and waved at him. It was a bit stupid, kind of 'hi, look what's happening'," he said.

Jackson said that Olding then came over.

"There was an interaction between them. Her attention went from me to Stuart. She performed oral sex on Stuart," he said.

Jackson said he then saw the female getting dressed.

"It was getting light. She was at the bottom of the bed. I saw her getting dressed. I got up and pulled on some sweats. We said something to each other. I can't remember what.

"I assume I said: 'Are you leaving?'"

When asked if he had known the alleged victim was upset leaving his house he said: "If I had seen she was upset I would have gone and checked on her. I didn't see her upset.

"The last thing I want is a girl crying leaving my house. I would have freaked out. The last thing I ever want is anyone leaving my house upset.

"I went to bed and had no idea she was upset."

Jackson said he was in a cafe with Olding two days after the alleged attack when the then Ulster Rugby head coach Les Kiss phoned him and the Ulster Rugby manager Bryn Cunningham phoned Olding and advised them to go to the police station.

"(Les Kiss) said 'Paddy, the police are here, you need to go to Musgrave Police Station'. My heart sank. I didn't know what was going on. Stuart looked shocked as well.

"Les called me again. He said: 'Have you left yet?' I said: 'Do you have any idea what this is about? I'm freaking out.' He said: 'I don't know. It sounds grave.

"I was in shock. I was just going through the motions to the station. On the way I had no idea as to why the police wanted to (speak to me)."

He added that at the time he thought the sexual activity with the woman "was good".

"Now I don't ever want to be involved in anything like this again," he added.

- PA

Earlier:

Ireland international rugby player Paddy Jackson has taken the stand on the opening day of the defence case at his rape trial in Belfast.

The 26-year-old, who denies raping a woman at a house party in south Belfast in 2016, told Belfast Crown Court he was not a violent person and had never thrown a punch.

He said: "I have never been in a fight before. I am not an aggressive person."

Jackson denies rape and sexual assault during an incident in June 2016.

Three other men charged in connection with the same incident also deny the charges against them.

Jackson said he was excited but also felt pressure to represent Ireland in South Africa in April 2016.

"I was very excited but also felt a lot of pressure. This was a big opportunity for me so there was a lot of nerves," he said.

"I felt a lot of pressure going into it. This was my chance. Rugby is my passion. I saw it as my chance to put my name on the big stage."

He told the court on the team's last day in South Africa they relaxed by the pool and had a few drinks.

"We had the whole day sitting by the pool having a few drinks before we flew home. I would have been a bit drunk, but it was more sitting in the sun and relaxing."

They flew home to Dublin that night.

Jackson said that, when he arrived back in Belfast, he dropped his bags at home and then went to Cutters Wharf bar to watch the football and have a few drinks.

"It was very casual. Really just watching the football and chatting. We then went to Ollies (nightclub)," he said.

He told the court that from time to time he would be approached by people he did not know.

"It happened quite a lot. I just took the time if they want to talk to me, be polite. If they want a picture or have a chat I try to do that," he said.

- PA


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