Belfast trial: ‘It’s daunting. It’s quite horrible and you get blamed’

Rape trial ends week in blur of texts, emojis, and accounts by taxi driver and friends

Rory Harrison was initially interviewed by the PSNI as a witness, prior to being charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information, allegations he denies. Photograph: Pacemaker

Rory Harrison was initially interviewed by the PSNI as a witness, prior to being charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information, allegations he denies. Photograph: Pacemaker

Rape was something the young women had discussed, in the weeks before the events which are the subject of the ongoing trial in Belfast’s Crown Court. One of the complainant’s friends was asked in court last week why she had said, during those conversations, that if she were raped she would not go to the police. The young woman glanced out from the witness box across the ranks of gowned and wigged barristers, solicitors and court officials, the line of defendants, the crowded press area and the packed public gallery: “Because of what’s happening in this room,” she replied. “It’s daunting. It’s quite horrible and you get blamed. It’s a distressing process.”

The grainy black-and-white CCTV footage was shown repeatedly, shoals of young people moving through the nightclub in the minutes before it closed, the long, sleek hair of the young women shining in the lights. Counsel tried to establish shot by shot what was happening, stopping, rewinding, using the cursor to draw attention to a hand on an arm, a witness looking back, another leaving.

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