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Rugby rape trial: Stuart Olding insists he and co-accused did not try to 'cover up' what happened

  Stuart Olding is being cross examined by the prosecution this afternoon. Picture by Hugh Russell

Stuart Olding has dismissed as "completely untrue" allegations that he and his friends tried to cover up drunken sexual activity with a woman who has accused him of rape.

The Ulster and Ireland rugby player also batted away prosecution suggestions that he had gone "way beyond what was acceptable", insisting everything had been consensual.

Olding (24) from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, denies raping a woman at a house party on June 28 2016.

His team mate and co-accused Paddy Jackson (26) from Oakleigh Park in the city, also denies raping the same woman - as well as a charge of sexual assault.

Olding spent several hours giving evidence to the jury of eight men and three women at Belfast Crown Court.

During cross examination by prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC, he was asked: "Is the reality that you have been engaged with your friends in trying to cover up what happened on a drunken night where you, Paddy Jackson and, Blane McIlroy in a wholly different way, went way beyond what was acceptable?"

Olding answered: "No, that's completely untrue. Everything that happened that night was consensual."

He told the court that while the woman was performing a sex act on him he could not see what Jackson was doing.

"I wasn't interested in what Paddy was doing," he said.

The prosecution then asked Olding if he and Jackson were attempting "to row each other out of the mess you have got yourselves into?"

Olding responded: "No, I wouldn't say that at all."

The prosecution told the court that after the alleged attack Jackson and Olding had a discussion "about who was going to say what about what type of sexual activity there had been".

Olding replied: "No, that's completely incorrect."

He said he could not see what, if anything, Jackson was doing.

"I remember Paddy just sitting at the edge of the bed, to be honest my focus was not on Paddy. He could have been doing stuff at the bottom, I don't know."

Mr Hedworth put it to him: "There's absolutely nothing to stop you seeing where Paddy Jackson is and what he is doing."

Olding answered: "I accept that, but I wasn't looking at Paddy."

The prosecution barrister also spent some time questioning Olding about his interpretation of a term for sexual activity which he had used in a WhatsApp communication with friends the day after the alleged attack.

When asked why he would have used the term, Olding said he had been "boasting" and "exaggerating" to his friends to "make it seem more than what it was".

Mr Hedworth then quoted another WhatsApp message in which Olding described the activity as "like a merry-go-round at the carnival".

"That's not the description of you getting oral sex while Paddy Jackson watched?" he said.

"No, it's not," replied Olding.

The lawyer put it to him: "But they are your words?"

Olding answered: "They are my words, yes."

Meanwhile, it emerged that Olding had been angered when he learnt that friends Rory Harrison (25) and Blane McIlroy (26) - who are also contesting charges connected to the alleged attack, had not disclosed the complainant was distressed or had said what happened was not consensual when they met for lunch the following day.

"You must feel rather cross?" asked the barrister.

"Yeah, I would be cross."

"Furious," the lawyer probed further.

Olding answered: "Well, yes."

However, he did not believe the pals had maliciously withheld the information, he said.

Prosecution said: "This brotherhood with your friends, they don't seem to be looking after you very well, unless of course you're not telling the ladies and gentlemen (of the jury) the truth."

Olding answered: "I'm telling the complete truth."

Earlier, the court heard how Olding and his friends had been in a café ordering food when they were contacted by senior figures from Ulster Rugby telling them to go the police station.

He was arrested shortly after arriving at Musgrave Street PSNI station in Belfast city centre on June 30 2016.

He had accepted the help of a duty solicitor, but at some point the holding cell door opened and a police officer said Ulster Rugby had sent solicitor Joe Rice to represent him.

Olding, who had only ever had a solicitor to buy a house, accepted Mr Rice's assistance.

While he was being questioned, police officers searched his home and seized clothing - but not the shirt, jeans, shoes and boxers he had been wearing on the night in question.

Mr Hedworth said: "The police didn't seize the clothing, I suggest this was because your clothing you had been wearing wasn't in your flat?"

Olding, replied: "As far as I am aware it was at my flat."

All four men charged in connection with the alleged rape deny all the charges against them.

Stuart Olding had earlier told the jury that had the woman at the centre of the rape trial "resisted in any way or didn't want it to happen" he "wouldn't have carried on".

Toby Hedworth QC put to Olding: "I am asking you to consider what you did to (the woman) in the early hours of June 28 2016 and what you did you knew full well you should not have done."

He replied: "I don't agree with that."

The prosecution said: "when you entered that bedroom that young woman looked at you and said to Paddy Jackson 'please, no, not him too'."

Olding replied: "I don't remember any of that happening."

The prosecution lawyer said: "As you entered that room you were fully aware of (the woman) saying, 'please no, not him too'."

Olding answered: "No. I was invited in by (her) and that's the reason I went in."

Referring to the amount of alcohol Olding had consumed that night the lawyer put to him: "If you had that amount of drink there's a danger of disregarding the wishes or views of another person if they get in the way of what you want to achieve."

Olding replied: "I wouldn't agree with that."

The prosecution then said: "Like Paddy Jackson, you were not interested in what (the woman) wanted to do or was prepared to do. She was just a vehicle for your own sexual desires that night."

Olding answered: "I wouldn't put it that way."

The prosecution put to Olding: "There comes a stage that night where you and Paddy Jackson are in his bedroom with that young woman.

"You are both professional rugby players. Your work is physically engaging, using not only your skill but also your strength in an attempt to overpower your opponent. What match is a 19-year-old woman going to be for the pair of you if she is going to try to resist?"

Olding answered: "If she had resisted in any way or didn't want it to happen I wouldn't have had a problem with that, I wouldn't have carried on."

The prosecution again asked what match the woman would have been for him and Jackson if she did not want to engage in sexual activity.

Olding answered: "I don't think she would be a match."

The prosecution asked Olding: "You're prepared to tell a story, this young woman takes the initiative? She's the one forcing everything and you just passively succumb. You're just lying there, her sex toy?"

Olding answered: "I wouldn't put it that way."

The prosecution put to Olding that the alleged victim had not beckoned him over to join her and Jackson.

"When you went into Paddy Jackson's bedroom in the early hours of that morning (the woman) saw you. She did not beckon you over. She said 'please, no, not him too'."

Olding replied: "It was a threesome where sexual activity took place."

The court heard how the rugby player, who had returned from a tour of South Africa as part of the Ireland squad, had consumed eight tins of Carlsberg, four pints of Guinness, two gin and tonics, five vodkas with lemonade, five shots of Tequila or Sambuca and another beer during the course of the night.

He had also eaten pizza as well as a burger and chips.

"To put it in jargon," the prosecution lawyer said, "it was a bit of a skin full."

Mr Hedworth continued: "The danger if you have had far too much to drink is the situation where people are doing things that are not only not appropriate but are downright wrong."

Olding answered: "For some people yes, but I was in complete control of my actions."

The lawyer added: "If you had that amount of drink there's a danger of disregarding the wishes or views of another person if they get in the way of what you want to achieve."

Olding replied: "I wouldn't agree with that."

 Paddy Jackson arriving at court this morning. Picture by Hugh Russell

Paddy Jackson (26) from Oakleigh Park in Belfast and Olding (24) from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, deny raping the same woman. Jackson denies a further count of sexual assault.

Blane McIlroy (26) from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast, denies exposure while Rory Harrison (25) from Manse Road in Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

At hearing.

Read more: This morning's court report - Stuart Olding says 'embarrassing' messages exchanged with friends were 'immature boasting'

I never saw Paddy Jackson being violent, says character witness Declan Fitzpatrick


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