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Tuesday 19 June 2018

'I went upstairs - I hoped she'd follow me and she did', Jackson claims in court

Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is standing trial for rape
Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is standing trial for rape

Irish rugby international Paddy Jackson has rejected suggestions that he "forced himself on" and then "pushed and pushed" a woman who has accused him of rape.

The 26-year-old, who denies rape and sexual assault, was giving evidence in his trial at Belfast Crown Court.

Prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC said: "I suggest that you forced yourself on her then beckoned your friend Stuart Olding to join in when she made it quite apparent to you that she did not want any sexual activity with anyone."

Jackson replied: "No, it was quite the opposite."

The barrister added: "You just pushed and pushed beyond what that young woman was prepared to do."

Mr Jackson, of Oakleigh Park, Belfast, spent several hours in the witness box at the Laganside court complex, where the high-profile trial has been heard over the past six weeks.

The rape is alleged to have taken place at a party in Mr Jackson's home during the early hours of June 28, 2016.

Mr Jackson, who has 25 Ireland caps, swore an oath on the Bible before answering questions from prosecution and defence counsel.

His parents and other family members were seated in the packed public gallery.

Tease

Mr Jackson claimed that the complainant had flirted, following him from room to room and at one point running her fingernails along his arm.

He was attracted to her, he admitted. "We had caught each other's attention," he said.

The pair engaged in consensual "passionate" kissing in an upstairs bedroom, but it ended when she realised Mr Jackson did not know her name.

Some time later, however, Mr Jackson said she followed him upstairs for a second time.

"I went upstairs. I hoped she would follow and she did," he said.

Suggesting he had been playing a game of "cat and mouse", Mr Hedworth said: "How it happened was that young woman went upstairs and you followed?"

"No, I didn't," Jackson interjected.

"You thought she was a bit of a tease?" added Mr Hedworth. "Did you think this time I am not going to take no for an answer?"

Mr Jackson responded: "No, I didn't."

Probing for further detail of the alleged sexual activity in the bedroom, Mr Hedworth said: "You inch back, sit down and she takes over?"

"Yes," answered Mr Jackson.

"She undid your trousers. Pulls your trousers and boxers down to your knees and then she starts to fellate you?"

"Yes," the defendant said.

The lawyer then asked if the woman appeared to enjoy what was happening, adding: "What was she getting out of it?"

"She did it. She was doing it so she must have," replied Mr Jackson.

The court also heard that when his Ireland and Ulster team-mate Mr Olding walked into the room, Mr Jackson, who claims to have been receiving oral sex, waved to say "hi".

"I didn't ask him or beckon him into the room. It was just a smile," he said.

"He walked in but it was not because of me. I do not know the interaction with her."

Mr Jackson then took his trousers off because he thought the activity was "going to lead somewhere".

"Probably sex or more sexual activity," he added.

He touched the woman with his hands, but did not penetrate her with his penis because no condom could be found, the court was told.

However, Mr Hedworth suggested: "The reality is, I suggest that you then penetrated with your penis?"

Jackson answered: "No, I didn't."

Mr Hedworth continued: "From behind, which is exactly what Dara Florence saw when she blurts her way into the room looking for her friend, 100pc certain that you are having vaginal sex with the female on the bed.

"You had resisted that temptation with that woman in that position, not to put your penis inside her.

"Notwithstanding the amount of drink you had taken, you were showing complete restraint?"

"Yes," Jackson answered.

Pressing further, Mr Hedworth questioned if the complainant had shown any interest in Mr Olding earlier in the night - either staring, being fixated with or following him, as she is alleged to have done with Mr Jackson.

"Yet, she's straight away kissing him and performing oral sex?" asked the lawyer.

"Yes," said Mr Jackson.

Happy

After Mr Olding left the room, it was claimed that Mr Jackson and the woman lay on the bed together, with Mr Jackson floating in and out of sleep.

He could not remember another friend, Blane McIlroy, entering the room.

"You apparently fall asleep," said Mr Hedworth. "You have no consciousness of Mr McIlroy ever coming into the room?"

"No," said Mr Jackson.

He woke up to find the woman putting her clothes on, but at no point was she distressed, he claimed.

Later, the court heard that Mr Jackson had woken up "happy" the following morning.

He met his friends for lunch and went out drinking again.

"The night happened as it happened and I woke up happy with what had happened," he said.

"You were happy with a bit of spit roasting?" asked Mr Hedworth.

Mr Jackson replied: "Threesome or spit-roast."

Mr Jackson understood the term "spit roast" to involve a woman and two men, with one receiving oral sex while the other penetrates the woman with either his penis or his hands.

Mr Jackson said he was in a cafe with Mr Olding two days later when the then Ulster Rugby head coach, Les Kiss, phoned him and Ulster Rugby manager Bryn Cunningham phoned Mr Olding and advised them to go to the police station.

"(Les Kiss) said: 'Paddy, the police are here, you need to go to Musgrave Police Station. My heart sank. I didn't know what was going on. Stuart looked shocked as well," he said.

"Les called me again. He said: 'Have you left yet?' I said: 'Do you have any idea what this is about? I'm freaking out.' He said 'I don't know. It sounds grave'.

Shock

"I was in shock. I was just going through the motions to the station. On the way I had no idea as to why the police wanted to (speak to me)."

He added that at the time he thought the sexual activity with the woman "was good".

"Now I don't ever want to be involved in anything like this again," he added.

Under cross-examination, Mr Jackson denied "concocting a story" with his co-accused after the alleged attack in case an allegation of rape was made.

Mr Jackson and Mr Olding (24), of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, deny raping the same woman. Mr Jackson denies a further count of sexual assault.

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

The case continues.

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