Jury in Belfast trial told that they "must decide where the truth lies" 2 years ago

Jury in Belfast trial told that they "must decide where the truth lies"

The latest from Belfast Crown Court.

The eight men and three women of the jury presiding over the case in Belfast involving two Ulster Rugby players accused of rape were told on Monday; "It is for you to decide where the truth lies."

As the trial entered its ninth week, Judge Patricia Smyth continued her charge to the jury, where she set out the different versions of accounts that have given regarding happened in Paddy Jackson's bedroom in July of 2016.

In her charge - which she began last Friday and resumed on Monday - Judge Smyth once again told the jury that the issue was one of consent.

The judge said: "(The complainant) has told you she was vaginally raped and digitally penetrated by Paddy Jackson without her consent, and was orally raped by Stuart Olding. She said she was frozen with fear."

Judge Smyth also reminded the jury that the complainant said she "jumped off the bed and ran out of the room" when Blane McIlroy appeared naked and with his penis in his hand, asking her to engage in sexual activity with him."

The judge added: "The defence case is that these allegations are false. (The complainant) made false allegations because she became involved in consensual group activity and feared she may have been filmed engaging in the acts."

Pointing out that her account differed from the versions given by Jackson, Olding and McIlroy, the judge told the jury it was their decision to determine where the truth lies.

Jackson claims she had oral sex with him, and has denied vaginal intercourse, saying he only used his fingers. Olding claimed that after opening the bedroom door, she beckoned him in and performed oral sex on him until he ejaculated. And McIlroy has made the case that when he came into the bedroom, she masturbated him and briefly performed oral sex on him.

Jackson (26), from Oakleigh Park, and 25-year old Stuart Olding, from Ardenlee Street, have both denied rape, while Jackson has denied a further charge of sexual assault.

McIlory (25), of Royal Lodge Road, has denied exposure, while 25-year old Harrison, from Manse Road, has been charged with and denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

In her charge, Judge Smyth raised the issue of alcohol, saying all defendants as well as the complainant had been drinking prior to going to an afterparty in Jackson's home in the early hours of Tuesday 28 June 2018.

With the jury asked to consider CCTV footage from Ollie's, Judge Smyth said that when she was cross-examined, the now 21-year-old complainant said she was not interested in celebrities.

The judge also said that whilst the woman had been drinking, the jury were not to assume just because she had been drinking that she wanted sex.

Regarding the issue of alcohol, Judge Smyth said:

"The reliability of all of the witnesses whose evidence was in dispute, you are entitled to consider whether their lapses in memory are genuine, or simply a convenient excuse to avoid having to explain their behaviour to you."

And whilst Judge Smyth noted defence criticisms of how they handled the investigation, she urged the jury not to judge "any perceived fails." Instead, she said, "Your only task is to decide whether the prosecution has made you sure of the defendants' guilt. Do not let yourselves be distracted from that task."

Reporting by Ashleigh McDonald for M&M News Services.