Northern Ireland news

Jury in Ulster rugby players' rape trial visits scene of alleged crime

Stuart Olding (left) and Paddy Jackson at Belfast Crown Court 
Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association

A jury in the rape trial of two Irish rugby players has visited the scene of the alleged crime.

The 12-person panel travelled to Oakleigh Park in Belfast, the home of Paddy Jackson.

Judge Patricia Smyth, who is presiding over the high-profile case, also attended.

Prior to the visit, they were told by Judge Smyth: "We have made arrangements for you to visit Mr Jackson's home. The purpose of this visit is simply so you can see the layout of his house, the size of his house, and the proximity of the rooms in the house."

After arriving at Jackson's home, the jury members were taken in two groups of six to his bedroom. 

When they returned to court, Judge Smyth addressed them again to remind them not to carry out any research on the trial.

Telling the members "you are the only people who will hear all the evidence in this case", she urged them not to discuss proceedings with anyone.

Jackson (26) and his Ulster and Ireland teammate Stuart Olding (24) from Ardenlee Street, deny raping the same woman at the property in June 2016.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

The trial has previously heard the alleged attack happened at an after party in the house following a night at a Belfast club.

Two other men have also been returned for trial charged in connection with the same incident.

Blane McIlroy (26) from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, is accused of one count of exposure.

Rory Harrison (25) from Manse Road, Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Both men also deny the charges.

The case continues.

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