Belfast rape trial told ‘drunk consent is still consent’

Lawyers for defence and prosecution make closing arguments in trial of Ireland rugby players

"Drunk consent is still consent," the jury in the rape trial of Ireland and Ulster players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding has been told.

Brendan Kelly QC, representing Mr Jackson, is making his closing arguments to the jury on Thursday afternoon. This morning the jurors were asked to convict the men by the prosecution counsel who said the alleged rape "is a throwback to the days of male entitlement".

Mr Jackson is alleged to have raped and sexually assaulted the then 19-year-old Belfast student in his bedroom during a gathering in his house. Mr Olding is accused or orally raping her at the same time. Their friend Blane McIlroy is alleged to have then entered the room naked and told the complainant: "You f***ed those guys. Why not me?"

A fourth man, Rory Harrison, is accused of trying to cover-up the alleged rape by giving police a misleading statement and deleting relevant text messages.


Mr Kelly told the jury it is going to hear to great deal about Mr Jackson’s case “and I do not to apologise for that”.

He said the jury must be sure the prosecution had made its case on the charges. “Not ‘I think’, but ‘I’m sure’”, he said.

He said it was a high hurdle for the prosecution to jump and it was meant to be high. “If it wasn’t high it means innocent people would go to jail.”

“You need to be convinced of a man’s guilt in order to convict,” counsel said. “If you are less than sure it’s your duty to acquit.”

The prosecution case is “flawed to its core” by inconsistency and untruth, he said.

If the jury thought the woman might have consented, it must acquit, counsel said. “A drunken consent is still a consent. Regret has no bearing on consent. Bear that in mind when you try these counts.”

He said Court 12 in Laganside was not a court of morals. “We may all have daughters. That’s not what this case is about. It’s about whether you can be sure Mr Jackson raped [the complainant] and sexually assaulted her with his fingers.”

CCTV footage

Mr Kelly asked the jury to consider the CCTV footage from Ollie’s nightclub where the accused men and the complainant were before they went to Mr Jackson’s house.

“Does it suggest somebody who was forward, somebody who was tactile and somebody who may have been flirtatious?” he asked.

“She did stumble into them. She did touch [Northern Ireland footballer] Kyle Lafferty, She did grab [Northern Ireland footballer] Will Griggs. She did touch the face of the doctor who brought her a drink.”

The woman claimed she had lost her friends in the club but the CCTV shows her friend trying to get her to come with them at the end of the night.

“A crowbar wouldn’t have moved her that night. She was waiting, and hell-bent on waiting, on whomsoever she was waiting for. She doesn’t remember.”

The woman said she was invited to the party by the three female witnesses in the case. But none of these women remembered inviting her, counsel said.

“As far as [the complainant] was concerned she was on a mission to party that night.”

He said there was no attempt by her to broaden the invite to Mr Jackson’s to her friends.

Counsel asked why the woman had claimed the party wasn’t great when “she had been very keen to carry on the night after Ollie’s”.

He said she found her way to Mr Jackson’s party because she wasn’t invited to the venue where the Northern Ireland footballers were going.

“She was ready to go to a party and go to a party without her mates,” Mr Kelly said.

Counsel pointed to the woman’s evidence that she could not recall why she went up to Mr Jackson’s bedroom the first night.

“What do you do in a bedroom that couldn’t be done downstairs at that time in the morning. There were no model railways upstairs. There were no collections that needed inspection.”

Mr Jackson has claimed the woman followed him upstairs on both occasions he went up.

Mr Jackson (26), of Oakleigh Park, Belfast has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault in the early hours of June 28th, 2016 at a party in his house. Mr Olding (24), of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, denies one count of rape on the same occasion. Both men said the activity was consensual.

Blane McIlroy, of Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, has pleaded not guilty to one count of exposure while Mr Harrison (25), from Manse Road, Belfast, pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice and withholding information relating to the incident.

The trial continues.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times