herald

Friday 22 September 2017

Irish rugby star facing rape trial will object to three witnesses, court told

Paddy Jackson. Photo: PA
Paddy Jackson. Photo: PA

Evidence from three witnesses is to be challenged during the rape case against Ireland and Ulster rugby star Paddy Jackson, his lawyer has said.

A full day sitting has been scheduled next month for a preliminary review of the charge against Jackson (25) and fellow player Stuart Olding (24).

Footage will be presented to a district judge, who will decide whether the pair should face trial, Mr Jackson's solicitor Joe McVeigh told Belfast Magistrates' Court.

"Three witnesses are objected to," he said.

He asked that the court hearing on October 17 be ready to watch video footage as part of the evidence.

The session is designed to test the quality of the evidence against the men and whether there is enough to send them to a higher court for trial.

Lawyers for the two accused, who both deny all allegations against them, claimed material relating to the case had so far been provided by prosecutors in a "piecemeal" fashion and paperwork was still to be received.

The video is set to be played as part of the case against the sportsmen and two other men connected with the case who are not facing rape charges.

The district judge confirmed that the hearing on October 17 was expected to last a full day.

Mr Olding, of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, is charged with two counts of rape.

Mr Jackson, of Oakleigh Park, Belfast, is accused of one count of rape and one of sexual assault.

Stuart Olding. Photo: Sportsfile
Stuart Olding. Photo: Sportsfile

Exposure

The offences are alleged to have been committed against the same woman in Belfast in June 2016.

Fly-half Mr Jackson has been capped for Ireland 25 times and centre Mr Olding has played four times. They are also established stars for Ulster Rugby.

The Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby have said that Mr Jackson and Mr Olding will not play again until court proceedings conclude. It is likely that the pair will miss the entire 2017-18 season at least.

Charges against two other men connected with the case have also been lodged with the court.

Blane McIlroy (25), of Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, is charged with one count of exposure. Rory Harrison (also 25), of Manse Road, Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The case was adjourned until later this month.

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