Rape trial of Ireland rugby stars told allegations are 'throwback to days of male entitlement'

Rape trial of Ireland rugby stars told allegations are 'throwback to days of male entitlement'

THE rape trial of Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding has been told the alleged assault was indicative of "male entitlement".

Prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC said it was not a case of a young woman seeking to "bag a celebrity", but instead "a throwback to the days of male entitlement".

He explained that nightclub CCTV from the hours prior to the alleged rape showed the woman at the centre of the case spending most of her time with a doctor, not the rugby players.

"So much for trying to bag a celebrity," said Mr Hedworth. "This isn't someone going after celebrities."

Jackson, 26, and fellow Ulster star Olding, 25, are accused of raping the woman in Mr Jackson's Belfast bedroom, in the early hours of June 28, 2016.

The two men deny the charges against them.

Also on trial are the pair's friends Blane McIlroy, 26, who denies one count of exposure, and Rory Harrison, 25, who has pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice.

Mr Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Paddy Jackson, 26, denies one charge of rape and another of sexual assault (Image: Getty)

Making his closing speech at Belfast Crown Court, Mr Hedworth said the case was not about the #MeToo campaign or gender politics, but was about the behaviour of the first defendants alone.

He said: "The evidence shows they are not interested in the views of a young woman if their passions are up and they are full of drink.

"That is not the modern world. These are not the rules of our present day society as regulated by our modern laws."

Mr Hedworth claimed there were a number of inconsistencies in the accounts provided by the four defendants, at one point describing them as "utterly ludicrous".

Mr Hedworth added: "A good school, a good rugby career, even an act of kindness at a bus station counts for nothing when used to disguise the realities of what overbearing, drunk young men will do when passions are raised and they have available to them a young woman who's own views about what is happening to her matter not.

"They knew she was not consenting. They simply were not interested."

In conclusion, Mr Hedworth told the jury to give careful consideration to the evidence and said he hoped they would return guilty verdicts.

Referencing explicit WhatsApp messages in which the men referred to themselves as "legends", the lawyer told the jury: "The lads, legends? You decide."

Fellow Ulster star and Ireland international Stuart Olding, 24, also denies rape (Image: Getty)

In reply, Mr Jackson's barrister Brendan Kelly QC told the court that "drunken consent is still consent".

He continued: "Regret has no bearing on consent. [The complainant] was consenting.

"This is not a court of morals, nor will you try this case on any emotion or sympathy.

"You may all have daughters, you may all be fathers. That is not what this case is about."

He told the jury to set aside emotion to judge the case "with a clear head and an objective mind".

He referred to evidence that Jackson asked another woman who walked in on the sexual activity if she wanted to join in.

"Join in on a rape?... Is it really the Crown's case that half the bed would be consenting and half not?" Mr Kelly asked.

"She was very forward. She was tactile and she was flirtatious."

Referring to the CCTV of the woman in Ollie's nightclub that night, he added: "That's why we shared Ollie's with you to see if what Jackson was saying... might be more reliable.

"Look at the video yourself... Does it suggest someone who was forward, someone who was tactile, someone who was flirtatious?

"Does Ollie's inform you as to whether or not Jackson was telling the truth when he first talks to police?

"Ollie's was not to belittle [the complainant]. It was to fill in some of the gaps she had forgotten."

The case is in its seventh week at Belfast Crown Court and is expected to conclude shortly.