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All Four Defendants Acquitted In Belfast Rugby Rape Trial


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Additional reporting by Frank Greaney, Stephanie Grogan and Brendan O'Loughlin

All four defendants in the Belfast rugby rape trial have been acquitted of all charges against them.

Stuart Olding has been found not guilty of rape, while Paddy Jackson has been found not guilty of rape and not guilty of sexual assault.

The Ireland and Ulster rugby players had denied raping a 19-year-old student at a party in Jackson’s south Belfast home in June 2016.

Blane McIlroy has been found not guilty of exposure while Rory Harrison has been found not guilt of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Speaking outside court after the verdicts were delivered, Stuart Olding said he was “very relieved” the jury accepted his version of what happened in the early hours of June 28th 2016.

"I want to acknowledge publicly that, although I committed no criminal offence, I regret deeply the events of that evening".

"I am sorry for the hurt that was caused to the complainant. It was never my intention to cause any upset to anyone that night".

"I don't agree with her perception of events, and I mantain that everything that happened that evening was consensual", he said in a statement read out by his solicitor.

Speaking himself, Paddy Jackson told gathered media that "I would just like to thank the judge and the jury for giving me a fair trial".

"My parents for being here every day as well as my brothers and sisters."

In a statement following the verdict, the IRFU and Ulster Rugby said both Jackson and Olding will remain suspended until a review is completed. 

"We wish to acknowledge that this has undoubtedly been a difficult and extremely traumatic time for all involved" the statement read.

Consent

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre notes the case has opened up a wider debate on the meaning of consent.

The organisation said the case "highlighted the need for all those engaged in sexual activity to ensure that their partner is consenting."

"As was stated, submission is not consent. A person does not have to yell or call out for help. A person may be frozen. All of these are normal and real responses.  They are not consent. Consent involves active agreement. Anything less is unacceptable."

The DRCC admitted that is is "concerned about the way in which trials for sexual violence are conducted"

It also noted differences between the court system in Ireland and in Northern Ireland. "In Ireland, the public are excluded from rape trials."

"This would have prevented the extra pressure caused by packed public gallery and attendance of the defendant’s team mates".

If you want to speak with someone following today's verdicts, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has volunteers available to listen on 1800 77 8888

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="und" dir="ltr"><a href="https://t.co/Pk3gm2V14n">pic.twitter.com/Pk3gm2V14n</a></p>&mdash; Dublin Rape Crisis (@DublinRCC) <a href="https://twitter.com/DublinRCC/status/978996491003015169?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 28, 2018</a></blockquote>
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