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Judge Lifts Belfast Rugby Rape Trial Reporting Ban


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A judge has lifted a court order preventing the reporting of legal arguments heard in the absence of the jury during the Belfast rape trial.

It’s been exactly two weeks since Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were acquitted of raping a woman in June 2016.

Until reporting restrictions were lifted today, the public wouldn’t have known that additional blood staining on Paddy Jackson’s bed sheets was airbrushed from the photo shown to the jurors. The judge heard it belonged to “a non-related person” and his barrister successfully argued it was capable of causing “real prejudice”.

A short video of a “spit-roasting” sent by Rory Harrison to Stuart Olding was also deemed inadmissible. Mr. Harrison was acquitted of perverting the course of justice and withholding information. It was excluded due to a lack of probative value.

There was also an unsuccessful attempt to stop the trial after Naomi Long, the leader of the Alliance Party in Northern Ireland, tweeted about something Mr. Olding’s barrister said during his closing speech.

Mr. Jackson’s barrister also applied for the jury to be discharged because of Judge Patricia Smyth’s tone during her charge. He claimed there was a “degree of sympathy” while dealing with the complainant’s evidence.

In any event, all attempts to stop the trial were unsuccessful and the jury returned with unanimous verdicts of not guilty this day two weeks ago.


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