Ulster rugby pair cleared of rape

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Image caption Each Stuart Olding and Paddy Knutson were found not guilty in unanimous verdicts

Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding have been cleared of rape.

They both refused raping the same woman in Mister Jackson’s house in the early hrs of 28 June 2016.

Blane McIlroy, who was offender of exposure, and Rory Harrison, who was charged with perverting the particular course of justice and withholding info, were also found not guilty.

The verdicts came in the 9th week of the trial.

Mr Jackson seemed to be cleared of a charge of sex assault.

The court of eight men and three females deliberated for three hours and forty five minutes before delivering their unanimous verdicts.

Before discharging the particular 11-person jury, Judge Patricia Smyth told them: “This has most likely been the most difficult trial that will any jury in Northern Ireland in europe has ever been asked to hold on. ”

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Media caption Jackson’s standing ‘influenced prosecution’

The incident in the centre of the case was purported to have happened after the four falsely accused and four women went to Mister Jackson’s home in south Belfast from a club in the city center.

The woman told the particular court she was attacked right after going upstairs to retrieve the clutch bag as she has been preparing to leave the house.

The girl claimed Mr Jackson had implemented her into the bedroom and forced her onto the bed. She after that claimed she was raped.

However , the arrested said that all sexual activity was consensual.

Outside the courthouse, Mister Jackson thanked the judge plus jury for “giving him a good trial” as well as his family and lawful team.

His lawyer, Joe McVeigh, hit out in the investigation into Mr Jackson.

“It’s our belief which the investigation has been characterised by the switching of a blind eye to insufficiencies in the evidence of the complainant combined with very apparent investigative bias, inch he said.

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Media caption Timeline associated with events leading up to the trial

He or she added: “The prosecution made a great deal of perceived privileged position provided by advantage of Paddy being an international rugby player.

“We declare it was this very status as being a famous sportsman that drove your decision to prosecute in the first place. ”

Mr McVeigh also stated “real concerns about the integrity from the trial process” had been raised simply by “vile commentary expressed on social networking, going well beyond fair comment”.

“Several days of this demo were lost due to problems tossed up by the intrusive infection from the process by social media, ” this individual said.

“All the particular lawyers have been distracted by having in order to man the barriers against the flood of misinformed, misconceived plus malicious content on the internet, particularly over the last phase of this trial and, worryingly, even at the hands of public servants who seem to should have known better. ”

At the court

by Mark Simpson, BBC Information NI

There is no reaction from the four defendants in the dock as the verdicts had been announced.

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Media caption Paddy Knutson thanks jury, family and friends outside the courtroom

They simply stood and looked in front of them as, one by one, the particular not guilty verdicts were read out there by the chairperson of the jury.

A number of their family and friends were in tears in the open public gallery.

Image caption An audience of reporters gathered outside Laganside courthouse following the verdicts

Outside Court twelve, Paddy Jackson hugged members associated with his legal team, as well as family and friends.

Relatives of all of the four accused attended every day from the 42-day trial.

The case was only scheduled in order to last five weeks. In the end, this went on for eight-and-a-half weeks.

In a statement read out simply by his solicitor, Mr Olding mentioned: “I want to acknowledge publicly that will though I committed no lawbreaker offence on the evening of the 28th of June 2016, I feel dissapointed deeply the events of that night time. ”

He mentioned he was sorry for the harm that was caused to the complainant.

“It was never the intention to cause any annoyed to anyone on that night time, ” he said.

“I don’t agree with her notion of events and I maintain that will everything that happened that evening has been consensual.

“I have got consistently told the truth to the law enforcement and the court when asked in order to account for my conduct. ”

Blane McIlroy made simply no comment as he left with his mothers and fathers and legal team.

‘Very thorough’

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) looked after the decision to take the case to courtroom.

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Media caption Who is Paddy Jackson?

Inside a statement, Marianne O’Kane, assistant movie director of the PPS’s serious crime device, said: “The evidence received in cases like this was subjected to a very thorough plus careful examination by a team associated with experienced lawyers including senior advice, before we concluded that the test intended for prosecution was met, in line with the code for prosecutors.

“This meant that there was each sufficient evidence to provide a reasonable possibility of conviction and it was in the general public interest to prosecute.

“This case was properly introduced before the courts and overcame several legal challenges. It was ultimately correct that the matter was placed prior to a jury to make their dedication. ”

The particular senior investigating officer in the case, De Ch Insp Zoe McKee, stated she had spoken to the complainant following the verdicts: “Understandably, she is disappointed and disappointed with the outcome. inch

She said the situation was “thoroughly and robustly researched. We pursued all lines associated with investigative inquiry, we brought all the evidence together, we worked within close collaboration with the Public Criminal prosecution Service from the start”.

Her colleague, Det Ch Supt Paula Hillman added: “I are satisfied that this was a very comprehensive investigation carried out with professionalism plus integrity. ”

Inside a joint statement, the Irish Rugby Football Union and Ulster Rugby said it had “undoubtedly already been a difficult and extremely traumatic time for any involved”.

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Press caption Who is Stuart Olding?

They added that an internal evaluation had been postponed pending the end associated with judicial proceedings and that a review panel has been appointed and “will consider its review as soon as practicable”.

“The players will continue to be treated of all duties while the review panel is in process and determining the findings. ”

The particular verdicts came at the end of a 42-day trial.

The 12-person jury which started hearing the situation was later reduced to eleven after a juror took ill.

In total, 30 witnesses gave evidence, including 10 law enforcement officers, the four defendants, the claimed victim and the taxi driver who also drove her home on the evening in question.

The courtroom sat on weekdays, but , to attempt to make up lost time, there was one particular Saturday sitting.

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Picture caption Blane McIlroy refused one count of exposure

Some proceedings in the eight-and-a-half week trial had been taken up with legal arguments, within the absence of the jury.

On the second week of the demo, the jury was taken to view the layout of Paddy Jackson’s home.

All the other procedures have taken place in Court 12 in Laganside courts complex. On most times, the 100-seat public gallery continues to be full.

Paddy Knutson, 26, from Oakleigh Park, Belfast, and his Ireland and Ulster teammate Stuart Olding, 25, of Ardenlee Street in the city, denied raping the same woman at a house within south Belfast in June 2016.

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Image caption Rory Harrison denied costs of perverting the course of proper rights and withholding information

Mr Jackson refused a further charge of sexual strike.

Blane McIlroy, twenty six, of Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, denied exposure while Rory Harrison, 25, of Manse Road, refused perverting the course of justice plus withholding information.