Verdict returned in Ulster rugby players' rape trial

Adjust Comment Print

The complainant had alleged she was raped by Ulster and Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson, and orally raped by his teammate Stuart Olding.

A jury of eight men and three women returned its unanimous verdict after deliberating for a total of almost four hours.

A large number of people took to Twitter to give their opinion at the conclusion of the case.

The court sat on weekdays but in an unusual step to make up lost time, a special Saturday sitting was held.

In total, the court has sat on 41 days, but some hearings have been taken up with legal arguments, in the absence of the jury. "We say that it was his status as a famous sportsman that drove the decision to prosecute in the first place", Jackson's solicitor, Joe McVeigh, said outside the court.

The judge told the jury that, at this stage: "The only verdict I can accept is a unanimous verdict".

She said the issue was one of consent, and she asked the jury to "bear in mind" explanations of the law in relation to it.

The defendents hugged their families outside the courtroom after the judge told them they could leave.

Ms Smyth also spent several hours reviewing evidence from the case on Monday.

The 11-person jury, comprising of eight men and three women, delivered not guilty verdicts at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday. "Thank you very much". After nine weeks, the jury has now retired to begin its deliberations.

"All the lawyers have been distracted by having to man the barriers against a flood of misinformed, misconceived and malicious content on the internet - particularly during the vital last phase of this trial and, worryingly, even at the hands of public servants who should know better".

Blane McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, denies exposure while Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information. He denies the charges. Pic Kevin Scott Paddy Jackson.

The forewoman then announced a final not guilty verdict and Judge Smyth told Mr Olding he was also free to leave the dock. He too denies the charge.