The prosecution has finished its case in the rape trial of Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

The jury of eight men and three women will begin hearing the defence case on Monday with Judge Patricia Smyth telling Laganside Crown Court the four accused will have an opportunity to give evidence or to call witnesses.

The jury at Laganside Crown Court in Belfast heard on Thursday that Mr Olding had originally been charged with vaginally raping the 19-year-old complainant but the charge was dropped just before Christmas.

Mr Jackson (26), of Oakleigh Park, Belfast has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault in the early hours of June 28th, 2016 at a party in his house.

Mr Olding (24), of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, denies one count of rape on the same occasion. Both men contend the activity was consensual.

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

A senior investigating officer with the PSNI’s Rape Crime Unit confirmed to defence counsel that Mr Olding was originally investigated and charged with vaginally raping the student.

Forensic testing

Frank O’Donoghue QC, for Mr Olding, asked the officer why the clothing his client was wearing on the night of the alleged rape was not seized and sent for forensic testing.

The trial heard Mr Olding’s house was searched two days later and some clothes were seized but these were not the clothes he was wearing that night.

His clothes would “surely have evidential value” such as showing if Mr Olding’s semen was on his shirt or boxer shorts, counsel said. He said this would have been particularly relevant to the charge of vaginal rape which Mr Olding faced at the time.

The officer denied the clothes had significant evidential value. She said Mr Olding had already admitted he ejaculated and testing the clothes wouldn’t have done anything to prove vaginal rape.

Counsel also asked the officer why she didn’t ask the complainant “some very obvious questions” during her two interviews, such as what happened to her top during the alleged rape.

“Is there not an absence of important detail in these interviews?” Mr O’Donoghue asked the officer.

Version of events

The officer said the purposes of the interviews were not to probe the complainant but to allow her give her version of events in her own words.

On the evening after the alleged rape the woman was examined by a Dr Philip Lavery who took notes and made a statement, both of which were later handed over to police. The officer told counsel she read both these documents.

“When you got Dr Lavery’s statement you must have said ‘what in God’s name is this?’” Mr O’Donoghue said.

He said it must have been apparent to the police that the doctor’s account of what the woman told him contained a number of significant inconsistencies with what she told police during her interviews.

Counsel asked if, in light of this, any consideration was given to interviewing the complainant a third time to ask her about the inconsistencies.

The officer said she does not know if it was discussed but that ultimately no decision was taken to conduct a third interview. She said a third interview would only be done if the complainant said she had further information.

The trial will not sit in evidence on Friday due to the weather. It is expected to finish by March 16th.

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