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A friend of woman who claims she was raped by Ulster rugby players denies encouraging her to lie

Paddy Jackson on the way into court in Belfast yesterday Picture by Hugh Russell.

A FRIEND of a woman who claims she was raped by Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding yesterday denied encouraging the alleged victim to lie about what happened.

The woman told the jury at Belfast Crown Court that she had known the alleged victim for seven years.

She said that she had been in contact with her by text and Whatsapp messaging while she was working in Portugal as a nurse at the time of the alleged incident.

The court heard she knew her friend was going out on June 27, 2016 and she was asking her how her night was.

In reply, the alleged victim messaged: "I got raped by three Ulster rugby f***ing scum. Brilliant night.''

The alleged victim said she would "go for a scan and a morning after pill'' but added: "I am not going to the police. It's not worth it.''

Her friend messaged her back telling her to "get tests for everything and to see if there is evidence there''.

The alleged victim said she "didn't like the police'' and that those involved in the alleged rape were Ulster rugby players.

Her friend sent a further message saying: "Just pretend they are not from Ulster rugby. Just pretend you have never met them before.''

She added: "Don't bring up Ulster rugby.....what they do for a living is irrelevant.''

The court heard the alleged victim sent pictures to her friend in Portugal and under questioning from prosecution counsel Toby Hedworth QC she recognised Paddy Jackson from the images but not Stuart Olding.

Asked how she knew Mr Jackson, the witness replied: "I went to Methody (Methodist College Belfast) for three years so I knew of him. Stuart Olding I had never seen before.''

Mr Hedworth asked the witness: "What were you wanting her to do?

The witness replied: "I was wanting her to go to the police but she did not want to go.''

Following a period of no contact, the pair then had a Facetime call about two weeks later when the alleged victim told her friend what allegedly happened.

Under cross examination from Paddy Jackson's defence counsel, Brendan Kelly QC put it to the witness that "just pretend you don't know they were from Ulster rugby, pretend you had not seen them before, that was your suggestion to her."

The witness replied: "The meaning behind that was it doesn't matter what someone's profession is: rape is rape.

"I was meaning pretend, don't acknowledge that they are players or what they do for a profession. It is irrelevant Don't bring it up.''

Mr Kelly asked the witness: "Did you think she might have been prepared to lie about it?''

The witness replied: "I would never have told my friend to lie. Never.''

Another friend later told the hearing that she had arranged to bring the alleged victim to the Rowan Centre in Antrim to have a medical examination.

The witness said that when she got into her car they "hugged each other and I asked her if she was 'ok' and she burst into tears''.

She told Mr Hedworth that "she had never seen her like that before....she (is) always very private with her emotions'."

The first police officer to have contact with the alleged rape victim said he spoke to her at Lisburn Road Police Station on June 29, 2016.

He said the "injured party was reluctant to go into details about what happened. I was trying to find out if any offences had been committed and if she was prepared to take the matter further.''

The constable added: "She told me she had been at a party but she didn't name any names at this stage.''

Asked by the prosecution if she told him where she was before the party, the officer replied: "She told me she has been to Ollie's nightclub.

"This struck a chord with me. She was not telling me about the people involved in the allegation. I said to her 'if I ask you an honest question will you give me an honest answer?'

"I have a step-daughter of 19 who had been in Ollie's and had seen Ulster rugby players there. I was aware Ulster rugby players socialised in Ollie's night club. I asked her were there any Ulster rugby players there and she said there was.''

The officer told the court that the "injured party'' gave him the names of Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and Blane McIlroy as those involved in the incident in a bedroom of Mr Jackson's home.

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