Friend of rugby players denies ‘concocting’ story after alleged rape
Rory Harrison is accused of destroying evidence and perverting the court of justice
Rory Harrison arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is on trial accused of perverting the course of justice and withholding information. Photograph: Michael Cooper/PA Wire
A friend of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players has denied trying to stop their alleged rape victim from going to police and “concocting” a story to save their reputations, a jury has heard.
Rory Harrison, (25) from Manse Road, Belfast, who is accused of destroying evidence and perverting the court of justice, also denied sanitising his police statement and engaging in a “damage limitation” exercise in the aftermath of the alleged rape.
During interview police put it to him he acted like “a knight in shining armour” towards the then 19 year old woman and sent her texts to try calm her down and prevent her going to police.
Paddy 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. Stuart Olding (24), of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, denies one count of rape on the same occasion. Both men contend the activity was consensual.
Blane McIlroy (26), of Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, has pleaded not guilty to one count of exposure.
The jury heard two days after the alleged rape, Mr Harrison gave a statement to police as a witness and not as a suspect.
‘Crying to herself’
On that occasion Mr Harrison told police he offered to drop her home in a taxi at the end of the party and she agreed. He said there was little conversation and the woman was “crying to herself.”
On October 4th, police re-interviewed Mr Harrison and accused him of leaving out key information in his first statement.
They put it to him the taxi driver had given a statement stating Mr Harrison was on a phone call during the journey in which he said: “She is with me now. She is not good. I’ll call you in the morning.”
When asked why he did not mention the phone-call in June, Mr Harrison said he had no recollection of it.
Officers also asked him about a text he received from the woman after he dropped her home which stated “what happened tonight was not consensual.” They asked him why he did not mention this to the other accused when he met them for lunch the next day. He replied he “kind of forgot about it.”
He said they did not discuss the encounter with the woman during lunch. He denied the purpose of the lunch was to “concoct” a story about what happened in Mr Jackson’s bedroom.
In his witness statement, Mr McIlroy told police Mr Harrison phoned him two days after the alleged rape to tell him Mr Jackson and Mr Olding had been taken in for questioning because a “girl from Monday night might have cried rape”.
Police asked Mr Harrison how he knew it was a rape accusation at that point when the PSNI officer who took his first statement had only said it was assault.
He replied he assumed it was rape because there had been a lot of stories in the news of high-profile sportsmen being accused of rape like “Adam Johnson and another guy, another English footballer.”
“You don’t really see high profile sports stars accused of anything else,” he added.
He denied leaving out key details from his statement, saying he answered everything the police asked and he thought that was how a witness statement worked.
The trial continues before Judge Patricia Smyth and a jury of eight men and three woman. One juror was excused from further service due to illness.