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Rugby rape trial: Drunken consent is still consent, Paddy Jackson's barrister tells jury

Paddy Jackson
Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association

The trial of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players accused of rape is not a court of morals, a defence barrister has argued.

In his summing up, Brendan Kelly QC, who is representing Paddy Jackson, also told jurors the prosecution case was critically flawed.

Turning to the eight men and women on the jury panel, he said: "A warning to everyone. It is not a court of morals. Nor will you try this case on any emotion, or sympathy."

He also told the jury to set aside emotion to try the case "with a clear head and an objective mind".

The lawyer had earlier told jurors they had to decide where the truth lies.

"It is perhaps common sense but it is what we all know, consistency is the hallmark of truth. Liars deviate," he said.

Paddy Jackson ( 26) from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, denies rape and sexual assault. His Ireland and Ulster teammate, Stuart Olding, also denies rape.

Two others on trial on charges connected to the alleged assault on June 28 2016 have also pleaded not guilty.

Earlier Mr Kelly said the 11-person panel had to be completely sure before they could convict.

"You need to be convinced," the lawyer said. "Convinced of a man's guilt before you can convict. If you are sure, no hesitation your duty to convict. If you are less than sure, your duty to acquit.

"It is as stark as that."

He told the court the purpose of the defence submission was to test the evidence but cautioned: "This particular case is critically flawed and has been so flawed since June 28.

"It is critically flawed by inconsistencies and it is flawed by untruth, flawed we will submit to its core."

Consent is at the heart of the case, the lawyer suggested, saying it is a key matter for the jury when considering the "grave" allegations.

Mr Kelly said: "A drunken consent is still consent.

"Regret has no bearing on consent.

"Bear that in mind when you try these counts."

He referred to evidence to the court that Jackson asked another woman who walked in on the sexual activity if she wanted to join in.

"Join in on a rape?... Is it really the Crown's case that half the bed would be consenting and half not?" Mr Kelly asked.

Ulster and Ireland rugby player Stuart Olding. Picture by Pacemaker

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

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

 Blane McIlroy (left) and Rory Harrison walking into court at a previous hearing. Pictures by Hugh Russell

Referring to CCTV footage from Ollies nightclub where the four rugby players and the woman at the centre of the case had been socialising before the alleged attack, Mr Kelly repeated comments by his client: "She was very forward. She was tactile and she was flirtatious.

"Paddy Jackson made those comments before he knew there was CCTV in Ollies (nightclub). But Mr Jackson came out with those particular lines. That's why we went to Ollies," said Mr Kelly.

Referring to the CCTV of the woman in Ollies, he added: "That's why we shared Ollies with you to see if what Jackson was saying... might be more reliable.

"Look at the video yourself... Does it suggest someone who was forward, someone who was tactile, someone who was flirtatious?

"Does Ollies inform you as to whether or not Jackson was telling the truth when he first talks to police.

"Ollies was not to belittle (the woman). It was to fill in some of the gaps she had forgotten."

Claims the woman had lost her friends were also dismissed.

"It's more like ditched her friends," said Mr Kelly, suggesting she was waiting for someone else.

"A crowbar would not have moved her that night," he said.

Mr Kelly said the alleged victim was "on a mission to party that night".

He then referred to her evidence before the court that she had thought her friends were going to join her at the party in Jackson's house.

"Why to you does she say it for the first time?" he asked.

"Is it her concluding 'if I went there on my own it doesn't look that good... I'll tell you what, I'll do before those who decide my allegation, I'll add this, I though my mates were coming'," he said.

Mr Kelly added: "She showed not one jot of interest in her friends post-Ollies... She did nothing to recruit them to this party."

He told the jury: "Consistency is the hallmark of the truth but you see again and again inconsistencies where the pudding is over-egged, where the gaps are filled... from a complainant whose evidence you're supposed to be sure."

The defence lawyer continued: "She had been very keen to carry on the party.

"She was on a mission. She was excited, no doubt euphoric post her exams, but she was ready to go to a party and go to a party without her mates.

"You have to consider that on whether she's being consistent or truthful."

Referring to the woman following Jackson upstairs for a second time as claimed by Jackson the QC said she visited his bedroom.

In her evidence she had claimed she was going to retrieve her handbag.

Mr Kelly told the jury they had three questions to consider in relation to that evidence.

1 Why did she not just take her clutch bag from the chest of drawers?

2 How she got from the door to the bed?

3 Who shut the door?

"You need to ask yourselves these questions when deciding whether or not she's telling the truth as to how the second visit started," Mr Kelly said.

Mr Kelly told the court that the woman lied about being raped because she was afraid images of the sexual activity between her, Olding and Jackson would end up on social media.

He told the jury: "If we are right that she had chosen to edit the account so as to persuade her mates and derail the rumour she is in lie mode. If she is in lie mode then as night follows day you have to take the morning after pill."

He added: "That morning when the dawn is 'my God, it could be on social media, I have to run the lie of a classic rape victim. My life could be ruined... if this gets out I'm ruined'."

The case has been adjourned for the day. Mr Kelly will continue his summing up on Friday.

Dismissing the jury for the day, Judge Patricia Smyth reminded them to keep their minds open.

The judge said: "We still have some way to go before hearing everything there is to be said."

Read more: This morning's court report in which the prosecution summed up the case

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