A DATE has been set for an Ireland rugby player accused of rape to stand trial.
Ulster and Ireland rugby star Paddy Jackson appeared at Belfast Crown Court today where he pleaded not guilty to accusations that he raped and sexually assaulted a woman last summer.
Jackson appeared alongside two-co accused, in relation to an incident that occurred on June 28, 2016.
All three were informed that a trial date has been set for January 22, 2018.
Jackson, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, spoke to confirm his name and replied “not guilty” when the two charges were put to him.
The two men who appeared alongside Jackson were named as 25-year-old Blane McIlroy from Royal Lodge Road in Belfast and Rory Harrison from manse Road, also in the city. All three men are 25 years of age.
McIlroy denied charges of exposing his genitals to the victim, “intending that someone would see them and be caused alarm or distress”.
Harrison faces two charges, namely perverting the course of justice on dates between June 27th and July 1st, and withholding information on dates between June 27th and October 5th, 2016.
During the hearing, Jackson’s barrister Brendan Kelly QC asked if it was possible that the trial could start earlier than the proposed date of January 22. Mr. Kelly said that the reason for his request was that Jackson “has been unable contractually to work…and the sooner the matter is tried, the sooner that particular matter can be resolved”.
The Judge responded to the request by saying that it was not possible, as the date of January 22 has been proposed “for a number of reasons”.
After all of the defendants had entered their “not guilty” pleas to all charges, senior prosecuting barrister Tony Hedworth QC revealed a number of witnesses who will be called to give evidence are students and will be undertaking exams in January.
A fourth co-accused Stuart Olding is due to appear at the same court later this week. Olding, from Ardenlee Street in Belfast, is an international teammate of Jackson’s.