March 7, 2018 / 3:32 PM / a year ago

Ireland international Jackson denies rape allegation

BELFAST (Reuters) - Ireland rugby international Paddy Jackson denied raping a 19-year-old girl in his home in 2016 when he took the stand in a Belfast court room on Wednesday.

FILE PHOTO: Ulster and Ireland rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at Laganside Court in Belfast, Northern Ireland, January 29, 2018. REUTERS/Clodagh Kilcoyne/File Photo

Jackson, 26, and his Ulster team mate Stuart Olding, 24, have both pleaded not guilty. Jackson has also been charged with sexual assault and two other men face charges in connection with the same alleged incident.

In week five of the trial, the court heard Jackson’s account of what happened after a night of heavy drinking the day after he returned home from Ireland’s tour of South Africa.

“I wouldn’t do that” Jackson told Belfast Crown Court when his barrister put the allegation to him.

He said the complainant was one of a number of women that returned to his house after meeting the rugby players and their friends in a Belfast nightclub.

“I didn’t know any of the girls who came back”, said Jackson.

He said he noticed one of the women looking at him in his living room and was under the impression that she was attracted to him. He said she followed him to his bedroom on two separate occasions for consensual sexual activity.

On the second occasion, he said they were joined by Olding, who also engaged in consensual sexual activity with the complainant.

He denied he had coerced her into engaging with Olding as alleged by the prosecution.

Under cross-examination, Jackson repeatedly denied he had forced the girl to perform sex acts against her will. He further rejected the girl’s claim that she said “not him as well” when Olding entered the room and joined them on the bed.

Jackson said he would have “freaked out” if he thought the girl had left his house in distress.

The court heard in earlier evidence from a taxi driver who took her home from the party that the girl had been sobbing throughout the journey.

Also facing charges relating to the case are Blane McIlroy, who denies exposing himself, and Rory Harrison, who denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Jackson refuted prosecution claims that the four men accused had closed ranks and concocted the story being put forward at a lunchtime restaurant meeting the next day.

Neither Olding or Jackson, who have represented their country a combined 29 times, will play at club or national level until the matter is concluded, the Irish Rugby Football Union has said.

Reporting by Ian Graham; Editing by Jon Boyle and Ken Ferris

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