Harrison tells court woman upset because ‘Paddy had rejected her’

Belfast rape trial: Witness accused of perverting course of justice by misleading police

Rory Harrison is expected to be one of the last witnesses. Photograph: PA

Rory Harrison is expected to be one of the last witnesses. Photograph: PA

 

Rory Harrison, who is accused of covering up the alleged rape of a woman by Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson, has said he believes the woman was upset that night because “Paddy had rejected her.”

During a Saturday sitting of Laganside Crown Court, Mr Harrison told the jury he did not believe the woman when she told him she had been raped because “Paddy is the last person in the world who would rape someone.”

Mr Jackson and his Ireland and Ulster teammate Stuart Olding are accused of raping a 19-year-old Belfast student at a party in Mr Jackson’s home after a night out in June 2016. A fourth man, Blane McIlroy, is accused of exposing himself to the woman directly after the alleged rape.

Mr Harrison is accused of perverting the course of justice by misleading police. He is also alleged to have deleted text messages relating to the incident which were sent over the following days.

Mr Harrison told his own counsel Gavan Duffy QC he took the woman home after the party. She “seemed a bit quiet” and “a little bit upset,” he said. He denied making a call to Mr McIlroy and talking “in code” about the woman during the journey.

He agreed he later got a text from her stating “what happened last night wasn’t consensual.” He responded “Jesus.”

Mr Harrison said he was initially shocked but then thought about it and realised, “Paddy is the last person in the world who would rape someone.”

There was no discussion about the complainant not consenting to a sexual act, he said. He did not tell Mr Jackson about her message to him

He said he thought the woman had “probably done something and regretted it”. He did not take the message seriously, he said.

His counsel asked Mr Harrison about texts he sent after the alleged rape including one stating the woman was “in hysterics.” He said this was a turn of phrase and the woman was not in fact in hysterics.

Asked about his message stating, “walked upstairs and there were more flutes than the Twelfth of July”, he said he sent it because he presumed Mr Jackson had engaged in sexual activity with the complainant and Mr Olding had done the same with another woman elsewhere. He said he would never make such a joke if he thought a woman had been raped.

In the hours after the alleged rape the four accused met at the Soul Food Cafe for lunch. He said it is a small restaurant with tables close together. It would not be the place to have a private conversation, he said.

There was no discussion about the complainant not consenting to a sexual act, he said. He did not tell Mr Jackson about her message to him. “Because I didn’t believe it. I didn’t want to worry him with something that I had absolutely no faith was true.”

Mr Harrison denied purposely deleting messages about the incident from his phone. He said his phone malfunctioned in August 2016 and could not be fixed.

The trial is expected resume on Monday at 2pm with cross-examination of Mr Harrison. He is expected to be one of the last witnesses.

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 contend the activity was consensual.

Mr 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.