Northern Ireland news

Stuart Olding: I deeply regret events of that evening... I am sorry for the hurt caused to the complainant

 Stuart Olding outside court after being acuitted of rape. Picture by Brian Lawless, PA Wire

STUART Olding has said he deeply regrets what happened in Paddy Jackson's house and he is "sorry for the hurt caused to the complainant".

Solicitor Paul Dougan, who read out a statement written by Olding outside court after he was acquitted of raping a young woman, said: "As you will appreciate, everyone including Mr Olding is in a heightened state of emotion and it would not be appropriate for him to answer questions today.

"And I would ask that you respect that."

Reading the statement, Mr Dougan said: "I want to start by thanking the judge and the jury for their time and patience throughout this long trial.

"I am very relieved that the jury has accepted my explanation as to what occurred.

"I want to acknowledge publicly that though I committed no criminal offence on the evening of the 28th of June 2016, I regret deeply the events of that evening.

"I want to acknowledge that the complainant came to court and gave evidence about her perception of those events.

"I am sorry for the hurt that was caused to the complainant. It was never my intention to cause any upset to anyone on that night.

"I don't agree with her perception of events, and I maintain that everything that happened that evening was consensual.

"I have consistently told the truth to the police and the court when asked to account for my conduct.

"The Stuart Olding who has been portrayed over the past nine weeks in this trial is not the real Stuart Olding.

"I am fiercely proud to represent my province and my country. I have worked very hard to achieve those goals.

"I hope to be able to prove myself going forward in all aspects of my life.

"I would like to thank my legal team for their hard work and their belief in me throughout.

"And finally to my family, thank you all for standing by me from the beginning."

During the trial, Olding, like his co-accused, gave evidence on his own behalf.

He was asked during week six to explain controversial and explicit WhatsApp exchanges in which he boasted about sexual activity.

The rugby player described the messages, sent between friends, as immature bragging.

He told the court frankly: "I am certainly not proud talking like that.

"But I did it, I have done it and I shouldn't have done it."

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