Northern Ireland news

PSNI says woman at centre of trial 'upset and disappointed' at verdict

PSNI Detective Chief Inspector Zoe McKee (right) and Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman. Picture by Hugh Russell

The PSNI has paid tribute to the complainant in the trial of four rugby players who were acquitted and said she is "upset and disappointed" at the verdict.

Senior officers also urged victims of sexual violence not to allow the verdict to deter them from reporting the crime to police.

Detective Chief Superintendent Paula Hilman also said the young woman had been named on social media and police would investigate the breaches of her right to anonymity.

DCS Hilman said the woman "had the resolve and confidence to come forward and put her faith in police and the criminal justice process".

The senior officer, who leads the public protection branch of the PSNI, said the force accepted and acknowledged the jury's decision.

“This has been a difficult time for all those involved in this trial.  We have faith and trust in the legal system and respect the verdict," she said.

“I would like to pay tribute to the young woman who had the resolve and confidence to come forward and put her faith in police and the criminal justice process.  In addition to this, she was named on social media sites during the trial contrary to her legal entitlement. Any breach of this entitlement is and will be investigated."

DCS Hilman said the trial had "provoked much comment and debate" and "while we respect today’s verdict it should not deter victims of serious sexual crime from contacting police".

“Anyone can be the victim of sexual crime regardless of age, background, status or gender.

“There is no room in society for tolerance of sexual crime. We understand how difficult it can be for someone to report a rape, but let me assure you today that if you choose to speak to police, you will be listened to, respected, treated sensitively, have your report thoroughly investigated, and you will be signposted to support services such as Nexus and Victim Support among others.

“We will continue to work hard to improve outcomes for offences of rape and sexual assault working in collaboration with the Public Prosecution Service and other partners. Our message is clear, please continue to report.”

Detective Chief Inspector Zoe McKee, senior investigating officer in the case, said the complainant is "upset and disappointed" at the verdict.

She added: "We do not want the decision in today's verdict to deter victims from coming forward. And I think it's very, very important. There are no winners here. This case was unprecedented.

"It was a case that has never been heard before - the complexity, the volume, the scale - and I think we cannot compare like for like in terms of cases, so I would encourage everybody who wants to make a report to police to come forward in the knowledge that you will be treated sensitively and with respect and your allegation in the court will be taken very seriously."

Ms Hilman said police had seen a rise in reports of rape during the trial, compared with the January/February period last year.

She refuted a suggestion made by Jackson's lawyers that the prosecution had been driven by the fact he is a famous sportsman.

Ms Hilman said: "We carry out all investigations regardless of background or status."

 

Read More

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding found not guilty of rape
Allison Morris: There were even giggles in the public gallery as graphic details of alleged rape were read out (Premium)
Alleged victim's name was posted on comments section of an online news site
Relatives clasped each others' hands and openly wept as verdicts delivered
Victims' support group calls for review into how trials are conducted
Allison Morris: I have two daughters and would not encourage them to go through retraumatising rape trial (Premium)
One of the most expensive rape trials in UK judicial history
'I Believe Her' rallies planned across Ireland
Ireland rugby captain Rory Best's decision to attend court on day two of the rape trial provoked a storm of criticism
About the rugby rape trial judge Patricia Smyth
PSNI says woman at centre of trial 'upset and disappointed' at verdict
Paddy Jackson's lawyers say status as famous sportsman 'drove the decision to prosecute'
Paddy Jackson's lawyers call for crackdown on 'vile' social media commentary during criminal proceedings
Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding 'will continue to be relieved of all duties' as review takes place
Stuart Olding faces major battle to return to pinnacle of his sport
Paddy Jackson had unwavering support from his parents
Stuart Olding: I deeply regret events of that evening... I am sorry for the hurt caused to the complainant
Not guilty Blane McIlroy admitted being prone to exaggeration
Video: Paddy Jackson thanks judge and jury for fair trial
Public Prosecution Service: 'Ultimately right' rugby rape case was brought to trial

Enjoy reading the Irish News?

Subscribe from just £1 for the first month to get full access

Northern Ireland news

Today's horoscope

Horoscope


See a different horoscope: