Paddy Jackson ‘not looking for special treatment,’ rape trial told
“So he plays for Ireland? So what? Don’t think he’s trying to play the rugby card’
Ulster and Ireland player Paddy Jackson is “not trying to play the rugby card,” the jury in his trial has been told. Photograph: REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne
Paddy Jackson, who is accused of raping a 19-year-old Belfast student, is “not trying to play the rugby card,” the jury in his trial has been told.
Mr Jackson is alleged to have raped and sexually assaulted the Belfast student in his bedroom during a gathering in his house. Stuart Olding is accused of 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**ked 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.
This morning, Mr Jackson’s counsel, Brendan Kelly QC, concluded his closing address to the jury by addressing his client’s decision to take the stand in his own defence.
Mr Kelly told jurors defendants have no obligation to give evidence in a trial. “It stems from the fact they don’t need to prove anything. In some cases, not all, defendants choose to give evidence.”
All four defendants gave evidence and no one tried to hide, conceal or duck, he said. “Everyone has got up, with their good character, and given their account.”
Counsel suggested the prosecution were criticising Mr Jackson for giving evidence about attending Methodist College in Belfast and for going into detail about his Ulster and Irish rugby career.
“You the jury want to know as much about him as possible, not just what he did on the 27th and 28th of June,” Mr Kelly said.
“Mr Jackson is not looking for special treatment or favours. It is his counsel’s decision as to what goes to evidence before the jury.”
Counsel said every defendant who takes the stand in a trial gives evidence about what job they have. “So he plays for Ireland? So what? Don’t think he’s trying to play the rugby card.”
Mr Kelly also criticised the quality of the police investigation and highlighted several aspects of the prosecution case which he said do not stack up.
He said the PSNI officers did not test inconsistencies in the complainant’s story such as why she did not mention oral rape when she spoke to the medical examiner.
The procedures around her police interviews were “slack” and there was an element of “rubber stamping”, counsel said.
Mr Kelly questioned why the police waited three weeks to interview the complainant about her memory of a woman walking into the bedroom in the middle of the alleged rape.
Counsel said it was the police officers’ duty to test the woman’s allegation. “You don’t just rubber stamp it and chuck it at a Crown Court.”
The woman gave evidence that after the alleged rape, she thought Mr McIlroy, who is accused of exposure, was the nastiest of the three men. Counsel suggested this was a “remarkable” reaction, when it was Mr Jackson and Mr Olding who are accused of raping her.
“What led her to give this account? McIlroy stood by the door with his hand on his penis, naked.
“Jackson for about an hour had raped her from the back and the front, had inserted his fist in her and kept her captive for about an hour. And then Stuart Olding joined in. How can McIlroy be nastier?”
Mr McIlroy claims the woman performed consensual oral sex on him, something which is denied by the woman. Mr Jackson and Mr Olding said they never saw him in the bedroom during the encounter.
The prosecution suggested Mr McIlroy claimed this discrepancy results from the four accused “concocting a story” about their roles in the alleged rape. They say Mr McIlroy got mixed up and gave the police the account Mr Olding was supposed to give.
Mr Kelly told the jury this is a “nonsense” theory. To support this, he pointed to a text sent by Mr McIlroy to a friend the day after the alleged rape stating: “Pumped a girl with Jacko on Monday, roasted her. Then another on Tuesday night.”
Counsel asked why, if Mr McIlroy had gotten his lines wrong, would he give the wrong account to his friend as well as to police.
Mr Kelly also pointed to the words used by the complainant after the alleged rape, words such as “humiliate” and “mortify”.
“Are those not the words you would use if you had been seen having group sex?” he asked. “Is it really describing the issue of rape.”
Referring to her failure to disclose oral rape to the medical examiner, Mr Kelly said: “Don’t feel misled by the fact that some people suffer shock. Of course they do. But the shock on this occasion, three days in, has caused a consistent lie.”
He said she had to “maintain the lie because if she did not she was ruined if it got out on social media that she had engaged in consensual sex with the two men.”
Inviting the jury to acquit his Mr Jackson, Mr Kelly said: Twenty months of his life has been blighted with this evidence of poor quality. It’s your job to test that evidence.”
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 (25), of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, denies one count of rape on the same occasion. Both men contend 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 at Laganside Crown Court will resume on Wednesday with closing arguments for Mr Olding.