Northern Ireland news

Blane McIlroy admitted being prone to exaggeration

 Blane McIlroy arriving at court this morning. Picture by Hugh Russell
Lesley-Anne McKeown, Press Association

At the time of the alleged attack in June 2016, Blane McIlroy had just returned from America.

He had been studying at Life University in Atlanta and had just entered his third year.

He was on scholarship and had just one semester, 12 weeks, left before his business administration course was complete.

But the 26-year-old has been unable to complete his studies, the court heard.

McIlroy said he had a very close relationship with his parents and after Jackson and Olding's arrest told his parents everything that happened that night.

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Indeed he was accompanied into and out of court every day by his mother who also sat in the public gallery listening to the graphic accounts of sexual activity.

When his defence barrister Arthur Harvey QC concluded his closing speech, there was a small ripple of applause from supporters in the public gallery.

McIlroy has been friends with Jackson since they were aged 11 and pals with Olding "for some years".

He attended the Ulster Rugby Academy but failed to secure a major senior contract.

During cross examination McIlroy agreed that from time to time he was prone to exaggeration.

Brendan Kelly QC, representing Paddy Jackson put to him: "You exaggerate from time to time and I think from time to time your close friends might even suggest you talk s***e."

He replied: "yeah."

He also has social media profiles on the likes of Twitter and Instagram where he has more than 1,000 followers but his photograph frequently appears on posts by his rugby pals.

He was a member of a WhatsApp group called the Juicers with friends in America on which he posted an image of three women at the party entitled: "Love Belfast sluts".

McIlroy also boasted about "pumping a bird" in text communications with pals.

During the trial he described how he had been interested in a witness when she came back to the house party.

In her evidence, Ms Florence told the court he had joked that he could give her "the time of her life".

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