Northern Ireland news

Rugby rape trial: Messages between Harrison and McIlroy refer to 'silly girl who is causing so much trouble for the lads'

 Blane McIlroy
Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association

A trial of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players has heard a series of text and WhatsApp exchanges between men facing charges connected to an alleged rape in June 2016.

The communications were being read into the record at Belfast Crown Court by prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC as part of a timeline of agreed facts.

In one exchange on June 30 2016 Rory Harrison expressed hope the case against his friends could be dismissed.

He said: "Hopefully it's just thrown out. Just a silly girl who's done something then regretted it.

"Yeah, surely it will be.

"I know but she's causing so much trouble for the lads.

"Yeah mate, if that got out like. The other thing is the cops went straight to Les Kiss (the then Ulster Rugby coach) which is f****** ridiculous."

 Rory Harrison denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information about the alleged rape in June 2016

Blane McIlroy responded: "Yeah, surely the cops can't disclose that to Les Kiss."

Harrison said: "There could be a law suit in that if it just dismissed. Although you are drawing attention to it, I suppose."

In another message sent the day after the alleged attack Harrison wrote to McIlroy: "Mate the scenes last night were hilarious.

"Walked upstairs and there were more flutes than July 12."

It is also the first time the court has heard claims that the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) went first to Ulster Rugby before speaking to the defendants.

One message, the court heard, read: "When Les rang Jacko, Bryn (Cunningham, Ulster Rugby operations director) called Stu. Just go straight to the station."

Paddy Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast and Stuart Olding from Ardenlee Street in the city deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Harrison, 25, from Manse Road in Belfast denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road, also in Belfast, denies one count of exposure.

 Stuart Olding 

The court heard how one of the WhatsApp groups was named Jacome while another was called The Juicers.

In a message to The Juicers group, McIlroy posted a picture of himself and three girls who had been at the after party where the rape is alleged to have happened.

The photo was captioned: "Love Belfast sluts".

In another message also read out, McIlroy boasted: "Pumped a bird with Jacko on Monday, roasted her, then another on Tuesday night."

Meanwhile, in separate messages also read to the court the woman was asked by a friend whether she told her alleged attackers to stop.

She wrote: "Of course I did but they were too strong."

Read more: This morning's court report

Ulster and Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson. Picture by Pacemaker

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