Ulster rape trial: Stuart Olding's solicitor says his client 'absolutely' hopes to return to rugby field

Ulster rape trial: Stuart Olding's solicitor says his client 'absolutely' hopes to return to rugby field

Update 2.28pm: The Tánaiste says a "chill factor" has been introduced to the debate on sexual crime following the Belfast rape trial.

Rallies are being held around the country in support of the survivors of sexual abuse.

A debate around issues of consent has been sparked by the acquittal of four men at the centre of the Belfast rape trial.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney said it is important to remember the trial was conducted under the rules of a different jurisdiction.

He said: "We shouldn't be drawing conclusions from what happened in a different jurisdiction in terms of what may happen here if people are brave enough to come forward.

"There is undoubtedly a chill factor that comes from the coverage that we have seen of the case we have witnessed in recent weeks.

"I think as policy makers we need to respond to that and make sure there is an appropriate response here."

Earlier: 'Everybody on social media saw themselves as a reporter and social commentator' - Olding's solicitor

Stuart Olding's solicitor says everybody on social media following the Belfast rape case saw themselves as a reporter and social commentator.

Paul Dougan's comments follow a barrage of social media remarks surrounding the trial.

Rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were found not guilty of raping the same woman in Jackson's home - while two of their friends were acquitted of other charges relating to the same case.

Stuart Olding's solicitor Paul Dougan says the commentary was unprecedented.

He said: "Everybody on social media saw themselves as a reporter and a social commentator.

"The comments, the posting by people who knew nothing about the case other than what the read in snippets and social media - I have never seen anything quite like it."

On Today with Sean O'Rourke, Mr Dougan added that, immediately after the verdict: "There was an element of anti-climax", along with elements of relief and disbelief as this had ended as "quickly as it happened".

Mr Dougan said he was never in any doubt as to his client's innocence throughout and the case that he had put forward.

"We were quite content that challenging the case in the court through the trial process was the appropriate thing to do," he said.

Speaking of the status of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding as sports players, Mr. Dougan said that this drove the manner in which the case was reported on, and how it led bulletins, adding: "That wouldn't have happened for any other sex type case in Belfast or perhaps in Dublin or Cork or anywhere else for that matter."

With the IRFU saying that they are going to conduct their own internal review, Mr Dougan said that "inevitably they will want to examine the events of the last nine weeks".

Mr Dougan confirmed it is Stuart Olding's desire to return to the rugby field. When put to him by Sean O'Rourke, whether Stuart Olding can realistically entertain hopes of putting on the jersey again, Mr. Dougan repled: "Absolutely."

He said: "Stuart recognises that there are questions what will have to be asked... but equally the morality of what has gone on, the indulgences, the excesses, happened when he was on holiday, when he wasn't working."

Earlier: PSNI to investigate naming of Belfast rape trial complainant on Twitter

People who named the complainant in the Belfast rape trial on Twitter are now facing investigation by the PSNI.

The divisive role of social media has come centre stage, following yesterday's acquittal of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, and two of their friends.

Paddy Jackson's solicitor Joe McVeigh says social media commentary 'infected' the trial on many occasions, and thinks the police and the court authorities in the north need to urgently address the problem.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.
Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

The trial attracted a barrage of comment on Twitter and other platforms.

Some spoke in support of the complainant with the hashtag I believe her.

Others posted derogatory comments about the woman, and a few went as far as naming her.

Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman says under Northern Ireland law, that is an offence.

She said: "We heard the judge commenting on the social media coverage surrounding this case that any identification of the complainant will be investigated."

Marianne O'Kane, assistant director and head of the North's Public Prosecution Service's serious crime unit.
Marianne O'Kane, assistant director and head of the North's Public Prosecution Service's serious crime unit.

Marianne O'Kane, assistant director and head of the North's Public Prosecution Service's serious crime unit, said it was "ultimately right" that the case had been brought to trial.

She paid tribute to the "courage and determination of the complainant and her family".

She said she hoped media coverage, which she described as "unprecedented", would help the public beter understand the criminal justice system.

She urged victims of crime to come forward on the assurance "that you will be treated with sensitivity and respect throughout."

According to the PSNI, the complainant was upset and disappointed with the outcome of the trial, but did not regret reporting the matter.

Ulster rape trial: Stuart Olding's solicitor says his client 'absolutely' hopes to return to rugby field

- Digital Desk

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