Blane McIlroy’s attitude to women comes into focus

Third accused in Belfast trial faces questions on ‘fantasy’ account and social media boasts

 Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

 

It was early on Friday afternoon when counsel for Paddy Jackson rose to his feet at Belfast Crown Court to question Blane McIlroy on his evidence about that summer night in June 2016.

“Paddy Jackson said that as friends you were always honest,” he began. “You liked to joke and exaggerate.” He paused. “Your close friends might even suggest you talk shite.” He stopped. It was a question.

Mr McIlroy leaned forward to speak into the microphone in the witness box. “Eh . . . yeah,” he replied.

Mr McIlroy is the third of the four defendants in this case to come before the court. He is charged with exposing himself. The young woman who alleged Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding raped her also alleged that, after the rapes had taken place, Blane McIlroy entered the bedroom naked and holding his erect penis. She said he thrust it towards her and said: “You fucked those guys. Why not me?”

The woman has told the trial she replied: “How many times does a girl have to say no before it sinks in?” On Friday morning, Mr McIlroy told his counsel, Arthur Harvey QC, he did not hear the woman say this.

He also denies the charge. Olding and Jackson deny the rape charges, and Rory Harrison denies withholding evidence and attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Mr McIlroy maintains that he had consensual oral sex with the woman after coming into the bedroom in search of a bed in which to go to sleep after other guests at the party at Mr Jackson’s home had left. He said he found Mr Jackson and the woman lying there naked on the bed. He said he apologised but “they said it’s fine” and he went into the room. He said he asked them: “What have you two been up to?”

He said the woman smiled at him, and went on to kiss him, masturbate him, perform oral sex on him and then ask him to get condoms. He said he went to see if he could get some and when he came back she was getting dressed. She said it was late and she should go, adding, “I don’t usually have one night stands.” He denied she was upset.

Barrister for the prosecution, Toby Hedworth QC, began his cross-examination by asking Mr McIlroy if he realised he had not been charged with rape. He asked Mr McIlroy to confirm that his account of the sexual acts between him and the woman was true.

“Yes,” Mr McIlroy replied.

“Yet she has a vaginal tear?” asked Mr Hedworth.

“I only saw a little blood on the sheets the next day,” said Mr McIlroy.

Mr Hedworth asked him if he realised his account was “preposterous”.

Mr McIlroy replied: “I told the truth.” While he and the woman were kissing, he had put his hand on her leg and was moving it towards her groin when he realised that there was already another hand there, he said.

“Presumably attached to someone?” said Mr Hedworth.

Mr McIlroy told the court he assumed the hand was Mr Jackson’s but he could not see.

“This is complete fantasy island on your part, isn’t it?” said Mr Hedworth.

“No,” said Mr McIlroy.

Alcohol consumption

Mr McIlroy agreed he had consumed a similar amount of alcohol to the others.

In a statement to the police he had said the complainant had attempted to kiss him earlier in the evening but he had not wanted to.

Mr Hedworth put it to Mr McIlroy that he had been interested in one of the other young women at the party, and that he was also photographed on top of another on the floor. One of those women said in evidence that Mr McIlroy had asked her to have sex with him. She said no, and he then said: “It’ll be the best night of your life.” She and her friend then ordered a taxi, asking it to come as soon as possible. It arrived at 4.26am.

“How did that make you feel?” Mr Hedworth asked him. “I don’t remember,” Mr McIlroy replied. A minute later, at 4.27am, Mr McIlroy texted Mr Jackson: “Is there a possibility of a threesome?” Soon afterwards he went upstairs and entered the bedroom.

Mr Hedworth spoke of the evidence given by the taxi driver who picked up the complainant, accompanied by Mr Harrison. The driver said that she was very distressed and that Mr Harrison had spoken on the phone “in code” to someone during the journey to her house. Mr McIlroy agreed he spoke with Mr Harrison but said he did not remember the content of the conversation. “I suggest that’s a lie,” said Mr Hedworth. “No,” replied Mr McIlroy.

There was extensive reference to Mr McIlroy’s contributions to various social media conversations about the party. He said that the things he wrote were “stupid and idiotic” and that he was “not proud of it”.

He had agreed on social media that three of the young women with whom he was photographed were “brasses”, meaning sex workers. He had also called them “Belfast sluts”.

He had claimed to a WhatsApp group known as “Juicers” that he had “pumped a bird with Jacko on Monday night. Roasted her.” He also described the night as “hilarious”.

Mr Hedworth put it to him that this kind of language “encapsulates your attitudes to those young women” and that they had only been invited to the house “for your sexual gratification”. Mr McIlroy denied this.

Mr Hedworth noted that Mr Harrison had informed Mr McIlroy that the woman had been “in hysterics” and warned him that the matter was “not going to end well”. Mr McIlroy had responded: “Really? Fuck sake. Did you calm her? Where does she live?”

Mr Harrison had replied: “Aye. Just threw her home and then went back to mine.”

Mr Hedworth asked Mr McIlroy why, when the PSNI contacted him requesting him to come to the police station in relation to their inquiry into the events of that night, he had deleted some of the messages on his phone.

“I just panicked,” said Mr McIlroy. “What’s the last message?” asked Mr Hedworth. It was a message from Mr Harrison suggesting he leave his phone at home when he went to the police station. Instead he took it, but deleted messages, some of which were later recovered. “I was afraid they would be read the wrong way,” said Mr McIlroy.

Judge Patricia Smyth thanked the jury for agreeing to attend court again on Saturday. “We have to be out of the building by 1pm,” she said. “Or we’ll be locked in.” There was subdued laughter.