Northern Ireland news

Rugby rape trial: What happened represents a throwback to the days of male entitlement, jury told

Paddy Jackson (right) and Stuart Olding arriving at court for a previous hearing. Pictures by Pacemaker
Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association

Irish rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding knew that sexual activity with their alleged victim was not consensual, the jury in their rape trial has been told.

But the two rugby stars "carried on regardless, for their own sexual gratification", prosecution barrister Toby Hedworth QC said as he summed up the case in Belfast Crown Court this morning.

Mr Hedworth QC said, on the night in question, a 19-year-old woman went out with her friends to celebrate the end of their exams.

He said: "She ended up in the early hours of the morning back at an after party. During that party she consensually kissed a young man... this was as far as she wanted it to go.

Read more: Drunken consent is still consent, Paddy Jackson's barrister tells jury

"When that man tried to undo her trousers she made it plain she was not interested in taking matters further. That is what she was entitled to do.

"The law of this land says that a young woman is allowed to say no, and any such no not only should be heeded but must be heeded."

"The law does not say 'oh well, you let me kiss you so I should force myself upon you and I the male will decide how far this will go'.

"The law is not, if she was up for something then I and my friends, if they fancy, can join and can effectively do as I and they please.

"The world has moved on.

"Unfortunately the behaviour of some in our society has not.

"What happened in Patrick Jackson's bedroom in the early hours of June 28 2016 represents, we say, a throwback to the days of male entitlement."

He added: "We are not talking about MeToo and gender politics. We are talking about the conduct of some males and the first three defendants in this trial."

Mr Hedworth told the court the defendants were "not interested in the view of a young woman if their passions are up and they're full of drink".

"If they want to take sexual advantage of that young woman they will do so. Her views are not sought."

He added: "If the complainant realises the power of the male is such it is easier to just comply, and that can be taken as consent.

"If she tries to complain thereafter then she's just a silly girl."

She "is getting the boys into trouble", the lawyer added.

"That is not the modern world. These are not the rules of our present day society as regulated by our modern laws."

He added: "I'm not talking about some agenda for radical feminism. I'm talking about proper relationships you have with each other. The sort of limits of conduct any man would expect for his daughter and sister."

Mr Hedworth told the jury the defence case is that the alleged victim "was in control of the three defendants, using each of them in turn for her own sexual gratification at the age of 19".

Referring to her evidence that after the alleged attack she wanted to get the morning after pill, Mr Hedworth said: "According to the defence nobody had sexual intercourse with this young woman... So why, if that's right, is she so anxious to get the morning after pill?"

Reminding the jury of a text from Harrison to McIlroy that said she was "just a silly girl who has done something and regretted it", Mr Hedworth said: "That's exactly what she knew would happen if she took this further."

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.

Mr Hedworth said the prosecution was not hiding from the fact there were differences and inaccuracies in the alleged victim's account of what happened.

Mr Hedworth requested jurors ask themselves to consider "the state" she would have been in on the evening of June 28 2016 when she presented herself at a rape crisis centre.

"How straight is she likely to be?"

He added: "A genuine complainant whether because of trauma, shock and confusion can give inconsistent accounts.

"What you have to consider is that the central allegations, which are before you, are true, as we would invite you to do."

The court was told the woman did not immediately go to the police.

Mr Hedworth said that after a trip to the cinema with her friends she realised "she could not let the matter go so she makes that call to police".

Regarding the woman's account, Mr Hedworth said experience showed complainants "do not always give all the details" and "do not always get all the detail right" because of fear and anxiety, genuine confusion or misplaced shame.

He said: "You do not just say 'well she's not injured so she must have consented'.

"You do not just say 'she could stand up for herself in a court so why could she not stand up for herself that night in the bedroom'."

The prosecutor later addressed defence suggestions the woman hoped to 'pull' a celebrity while partying in the VIP section of Ollies nightclub.

He said: "This celebrity bagger, as the defence would suggest, did spend a period of time talking to a man. Was it a rugby celebrity? No.

"Was it a football celebrity? No.

"It was in fact it transpires the Northern Ireland official team doctor."

He pointed out that initially she did not name the alleged attackers in her police interview.

"This isn't someone going after celebrities," said Mr Hedworth.

Referring to the account of a woman who walked in on the alleged victim engaged in sexual activity with Jackson and Olding, but did not think she was being raped, Mr Hedworth said what the eyewitness was confronted with "was a complete surprise".

"And she was certainly not expecting to walk in on non-consensual activity," the lawyer added.

He also told the jury that the eyewitness only witnessed the sexual activity "for a short period of time".

He added that the eyewitness "had not seen how they had come to be involved in sexual activity in the first place."

Referring to the evidence of a taxi driver who took the woman and Rory Harrison home, Mr Hedworth said: "(The driver) said when the police got in touch via the taxi company he knew straight away what it was in relation to."

Mr Hedworth asked the jury why the alleged victim would report a rape.

"What does this young woman seek to gain by putting herself through the ordeal? The shame, the indignity of a physical examination, going to the police reliving all this knowing what is likely to be deployed against her... unless, of course, she is telling the truth.

"Because a woman is entitled to say no regardless of how much testosterone is kicking about."

The lawyer warned about "smoke and mirrors" deployed to pick holes in the police investigation which failed to retrieve CCTV footage from outside the club or to seize Olding's clothing during a search of his house.

Outlining aspects of the medical evidence, the lawyer also reminded the court that Dr Janet Hall, an expert in sexual assault examinations, agreed alcohol consumption could reduce inhibitions, create arousal and make people do things they may later regret.

"What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander," said Mr Hedworth.

He said another doctor concluded bruising and a 1cm bleeding laceration to the woman's vagina had been caused by blunt force trauma.

The jury should think about why the woman would put herself through the indignity of a forensic medical examination "unless she was telling the truth."

He added: "Because a woman is entitled to say no, regardless of how much testosterone is kicking about."

After spelling out the prosecution case against each defendant, the barrister drew his two-and-a-half hour speech to a close.

Turning to Jackson, Mr Hedworth said that having already been told by the woman she was not interested in going further "he forced himself on her, raped her from behind before Mr Olding came in and raped her," he said.

Referring to Olding he said he was "someone who you will recall (the woman) hadn't even spoken a word to. A person who she said 'no, please, not him too', joined in sexually assaulting her."

Mr Hedworth said both men knew it was not consensual but they "carried on regardless for their own sexual gratification".

He said that McIlroy, having been knocked back by another woman at the party, asked Jackson by text if there was a chance of a threesome.

He added that when he arrived at the bedroom door it was "the straw that broke the camel's back" for the alleged victim.

"Mr McIlroy never gets beyond exposing himself", Mr Hedworth added.

Referring to Harrison he said he was "the gallant hero of the hour but his apparent concern for (the woman) were merely weasel words".

He said Harrison was a "heartless young man who found the whole thing so amusing."

Mr Hedworth told the court that Harrison deliberately failed to tell police what had happened.

He said Harrison also deliberately misrepresented the woman's conduct at the party by claiming she was "fixated" on Jackson.

"He guesses what had happened was rape, yet still he said nothing," added the lawyer.

Referring to Jackson and Olding, Mr Hedworth said: "Who cares where they went to school? Who cares about what junior team they played rugby with? Who cares which academy team they played for? Who cares about their level of success on a rugby field?

"It matters not whether a prince or pauper. You are just as capable of getting yourself extremely drunk and doing something - no doubt in the cold light of day when you realise the consequences - you come to regret."

He told the jury: "A good school, a good rugby career, even an act of kindness at a bus station, counts for nothing when used to disguise the realities of what overbearing, drunk young men will do when their passions are raised and they have available to them a young woman whose own view of what's being done to her matters not.

"They knew she did not consent, but they didn't care."

Referring to a WhatsApp message between Jackson, Olding and some other friends that described them as "legends", Mr Hedworth said to the jury: "The lads, legends? You decide".

The prosecution has concluded its summing up of evidence.

At hearing.

Read more: This afternoon's court report as Paddy Jackson's defence barrister addresses the jury

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

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