Irish rugby players' alleged rape victim denies attraction to celebrities

Irish rugby players' alleged rape victim denies attraction to celebrities

A WOMAN allegedly raped by two Irish international rugby players has denied being attracted to celebrities.

Earlier today, the 21-year-old insisted she had no knowledge of rugby or football when asked in court about a night out at a Belfast club in the presence of members of the Ulster Rugby and Northern Ireland football squads just hours before the alleged attack.

According to RTÉ, the jury at the trial of 26-year-old Paddy Jackson and his 24-year-old Ireland and Ulster team mate Stuart Olding was shown CCTV footage on Friday of the woman and her friend in the VIP section of Ollie's nightclub on June 28, 2016.

The video showed her in the company of some members of the Northern Ireland football team who were in the VIP area, where Mr Jackson, Mr Olding and other members of Ulster Rugby were also partying.

She was seen briefly placing her hand on the knee of Northern Ireland striker Kyle Lafferty and momentarily holding on to the arm of Will Grigg.

After the footage was played to Belfast Crown Court a defence lawyer asked the woman: "Were you attracted at the time to celebrities?"

She responded: "No, I didn't know who those people were."

The lawyer then said: "You knew who Paddy Jackson was."

The woman replied: "I knew his name and what he looked like."

Earlier the woman insisted that she had not gone into the club's VIP section specifically to meet players.

After leaving the nightclub the woman went to an after-party at Mr Jackson's home, where the alleged rape occurred.

She repeatedly insisted to the jury that she had not been a follower of rugby or its players.

The court heard that before she reported the alleged attack to police a friend advised her in a text message to pretend she did not know they were rugby players.

A defence lawyer for Jackson asked the woman: "Have you watered down your following of rugby or your knowledge of the people who played it?"

She responded: "Not at all. I have not watered down anything."

The woman was asked if on the night of the alleged attack she was aware that Ulster Rugby players were in the VIP area of Ollie's nightclub in Belfast before she went into it.

She responded: "We didn't go into the VIP area to meet rugby players, if that's what you are suggesting."

The court also heard how the woman was concerned that photographs may have been taken of her during the alleged assault.

During a police interview, which was played for the jury, the woman told an officer that a female had walked into the bedroom when she was allegedly being assaulted by Mr Jackson and Mr Olding and that she did not know if she had taken photographs.

"I was mortified what was happening and I didn't want to be identified if she was taking photos," she said.

Mr Jackson, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and Mr Olding, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016.

Mr Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Two other men have also been returned for trial on charges connected with the same incident.

Blane McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, has pleaded not guilty to one count of exposure, while Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The case, scheduled for five weeks, is being heard by Judge Patricia Smyth at Laganside Court in Belfast.