Northern Ireland news

Ireland rugby captain attended rape trial 'because he was directed to by barrister'

Ulster and Ireland players Iain Henderson and Rory Best attended the trial last Wednesday

THE judge presiding over the trial of two rugby internationals accused of rape told the jury yesterday that Ireland captain Rory Best had attended the court because he was told to by a barrister.

Pictures of Mr Best at Belfast Crown Court last Wednesday attracted attention both on mainstream and social media.

Prior to the start of yesterday's hearing - which was delayed due to legal discussions - Judge Patricia Smyth addressed the media coverage.

She told the jury of nine men and three women: "You may have been aware of press coverage or coverage of some nature about the appearance at this trial of Mr Rory Best, who I understand is the captain of the Ireland rugby team.

"I want to make it absolutely clear to you, and I want to make it clear to the public, the only reason Mr Rory Best was in this court last week was because he was directed to be here by senior counsel.

"That's the reason why he was here, and as a jury you should know that."

Judge Smyth then ordered that the trial resume, where the woman at the centre of the case confirmed that she consensually kissed Paddy Jackson prior to his alleged sex attack - but said "that's not indicative of consent for anything else".

As she spent a fourth day in the witness box at Belfast Crown Court, the 21-year old said the kiss wasn't "that passionate" and ended when Mr Jackson "started to undo my trousers."

The student has accused Mr Jackson (26) and his 24-year old Ulster Rugby teammate Stuart Olding, from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, or raping her in the bedroom of his Oakleigh Park home in the early hours of Tuesday June 28 2016.

Mr Jackson has also been charged with sexually assaulting the woman, with all charges denied by the pair.

As the alleged victim's cross-examination by Mr Jackson's barrister Brendan Kelly continued, she was asked about the kiss they shared prior to when she claimed she was raped by him.

The court has previously heard how the woman had been attending an after-party at the house with a number of other men and women.

When asked if her "focus" at Mr Jackson's was on the rugby player, and whether she was attracted to him, the woman - who was 19 at the time - said you didn't need to be attracted to someone to kiss them.

She has already told the jury that she kissed Mr Jackson once upstairs, returned back to the party, but went back upstairs to retrieve her bag as she wanted to go home.

She claimed that at this point she was raped by Mr Jackson, before being forced to perform oral sex on Mr Olding.

When asked again about this kiss, she agreed it was consensual. She claimed Mr Jackson instigated it, and when asked if it was a 'proper kiss', she said "to be honest he sort of lunged at me."

Mr Kelly then asked if the kiss was passionate, to which she replied: "It didn't last long before he started to try and undo my trousers. It wasn't that passionate."

When asked by the barrister, "If you didn't like him, why were you kissing him in his bedroom?", she said "I'm not entirely sure."

She also rejected a suggestion from that Mr Jackson left the bedroom first because he "became tired" of her teasing him.

Instead, she said she went back down the stairs after he tried to undo her trousers.

When the woman was questioned about the alleged rape, and was asked if the incident started with a second consensual kiss between her and Mr Jackson, she said: "That's completely incorrect."

She said he "wasn't taking no for an answer", that "everything about me was saying no physically", and said "you cannot underestimate how scared you are in those situations."

When Mr Kelly proposed that the activity between her and Mr Jackson amounted to "mutual sexual touching", she answered "That is completely incorrect."

Mr Kelly then said: "Within a short period of time, Stuart Olding opened the door and entered the room. Why did you not say to Stuart Olding 'Paddy Jackson is raping me, can you help?'", to which she replied "Because it was obvious what Stuart Olding's intention was as well."

She denied she "motioned" towards Mr Olding and then performed oral sex on him, saying "that wasn't how it worked out", and reiterated her claim that any activity in the bedroom was "non-consensual."

At hearing.

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