Location reporting by Frank Greaney
The jurors in Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding’s rape trial have begun their deliberations.
The Ireland and Ulster rugby players deny raping a 19-year-old student at a party in Jackson’s south Belfast home in June 2016.
Their friend Blane McIlroy is facing one count of exposure and another friend called Rory Harrison denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.
As the court awaits a verdict, we take a look at some of the key locations in the case.
Ollie’s nightclub is attached to The Merchant Hotel on Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter. This is where the complainant went on the night of June 27th 2016 after having “one and a half large glasses of wine” at a friend’s house to celebrate end of exams.
After leaving the club, she said she got chatting to some girls who were mutual friends of another two friends of hers. She told the trial they invited her back to an ‘after party’. She said Paddy Jackson was behind the girls but she didn't realise it was his house they were going to. She said she ended up sharing a taxi with him and two of the other girls.
The four defendants also ended up in Ollie’s after spending the day drinking in Blane McIlroy’s house and a pub called Cutters Wharf.
PADDY JACKSON’S HOUSE
Paddy Jackson’s townhouse in Oakleigh Park on the southside of Belfast city is where the alleged attack is said to have taken place. The complainant went back there for an ‘afters party’ with all of the defendants and three other girls she knew through a mutual friend.
She claims she was raped by Mr. Jackson in his upstairs bedroom before Stuart Olding walked in and forced her to perform oral sex on him. She also claims Blane McIlroy walked in at one point “completely naked”. The jury visited the house on February 9th with Judge Patricia Smyth and representatives from each of the legal teams.
RAVENHILL ROAD FILLING STATION
Ravenhill Road filling station is just a short walk from Paddy Jackson’s home. A taxi driver called Stephen Fisher told the trial he parked up in the forecourt in the early hours of June 28th 2016 when he received a phone call from his control room to pick up a fare from the garage under the name of ‘Harrison’.
Mr. Harrison and the complainant got into the back of his taxi and he told the jury she “definitely seemed very upset and was crying or sobbing throughout”. He said the man was attempting to comfort her by holding onto her. He said “her head was placed on his chest and he was trying to comfort her”.
Mr. Fisher also spoke about Mr. Harrison being on the phone during the journey back to the complainant’s house. He said he was “talking in code” and remembered him saying “she’s with me now ... she’s not good ... I’ll call you in the morning”.
Neither Mr. Harrison nor the complainant remembered that call but subsequent enquires revealed a call had been placed from Mr. Harrison’s phone to Blane McIlory during that time and the court heard it lasted approx. two minutes.
Mr. Harrison denied speaking in code and his barrister Gavan Duffy asked the jury why would he not have waited five minutes until he got home to make that call if he didn’t want anyone else to hear it? Mr. Fisher said the woman was “unsteady on her feet” as she walked up her driveway and needed the assistance of Mr. Harrison to get to her front door.
Mr. Fisher said he noticed some staining on the backside area of the woman’s trousers but he didn't think it was anything unusual. When Mr. Harrison got back into the taxi, Mr. Fisher said he remembered asking him something like “rough night last night?” to which he replied: “you have no idea” or “you could say that”.
SOUL FOOD CAFÉ
The four defendants each gave evidence of going to Soul Food café on Ormeau Road for lunch on the afternoon of June 28th 2016 – a few hours after the alleged attack. The café is near Paddy Jackson’s home in south Belfast. Rory Harrison said he arrived there at approx. 2pm and the court heard he had received a text from the complainant just over an hour beforehand to say “what happened last night was not consensual”.
He said he was initially shocked when he read it but after giving it some thought he didn't believe her and decided not to tell Paddy about it because he didn't want to worry him about something he had no faith in being true.
He denied discussing the text over lunch with his friends and denied discussing the fact she was upset in the taxi they shared home together. The prosecuting barrister Toby Hedworth believes they concocted a story over lunch to protect themselves in case she made a complainant to police. Each of the four defendants denied that was the case.
On January 29th 2018, a jury of nine men and three women was sworn in before Judge Patricia Smyth in Court 12 on the fourth floor of Laganside Courts to hear what was initially supposed to be a five week trial. One male juror was excused during the trial due to illness. The four men have sat side by side in the dock throughout.
The complainant was the first person called by the prosecution and she spent eight days in the witness box. The jurors have also heard from the other three girls who were at the ‘after party’ as well as friends of the complainant, medical and forensic experts, the investigating police officers and the taxi driver who brought Rory Harrison and the complainant home.
Each of the four accused also took the stand after the prosecution closed its case and the trial also heard from various character witnesses who gave evidence on their behalf.
The public gallery has been open throughout and has been mostly full. A special section of the public gallery was cordoned off to allow for the overflow of journalists attending the trial.