Defence lawyers say rugby players rape charge ‘flawed to it’s core’
Morals, emotion and sympathy should not be considered in the rape trial of two high profile rugby players, a defence barrister has said.
Instead, the jury of eight men and three women must decide the innocence or guilt of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding based solely on the evidence.
Brendan Kelly QC said: “A warning to everyone. It is not a court of morals. Nor will you try this case on any emotion, or sympathy.”
Mr Kelly, representing Jackson, was the first of four defence lawyers to make his closing submission at Belfast Crown Court, where he suggested the prosecution case was “critically flawed”.
Directing remarks to the jury panel, he said: “This particular case is critically flawed and has been so flawed since June 28 2016.
“It is critically flawed by inconsistencies and it is flawed by untruth; flawed, we will submit, to its core.”
Jackson, 26, from Belfast’s Oakleigh Park denies rape and sexual assault.
Stuart Olding, 25, from Ardenlee Street in the city also denies rape.
Two other men on trial on charges connected to the alleged assault on June 28 2016 have also pleaded not guilty.
Mr Kelly told the jury: “You need to be convinced. Convinced of a man’s guilt before you can convict.
“If you are sure, no hesitation your duty to convict. If you are less than sure, your duty to acquit. It is as stark as that.”
The purpose of the defence submission was to test the evidence, the court was told.
“It is perhaps common sense but it is what we all know, consistency is the hallmark of truth. Liars deviate,” said Mr Kelly.
The case, originally scheduled for five weeks, is approaching the end of its seventh week.
Consent was at the heart of case – a key matter for the jury when considering the “grave” charges, said the defence counsel.
“A drunken consent is still consent,” said Mr Kelly.
“Regret has no bearing on consent.
“Bear that in mind when you try these counts.”
Mr Kelly moved through the “chapters” of his submission slowly and methodically.
He contrasted Jackson’s account that he did not penetrate the complainant with his penis with what was branded the inconsistent word of the woman.
Reference was also made to prosecution witness Dara Florence who believed she had walked in on a threesome and was invited to stay.
Mr Kelly said: “She walked into the room where, if the prosecution are correct, a rape was taking place times two.
“She was invited to join in. She said ‘no’ and Jackson said ‘are you sure?’.
“To join in a rape?
“Ask yourself this, if (the complainant), as she tells you, was not consenting and Dara had said ‘yes I’d love to’, picture what would the scene be – those on the left not consenting, those on the right consenting.”
He continued: “Is it really the Crown’s case that half the bed would have been consenting and half not?”
The defence said they had shown CCTV footage of inside Ollies nightclub to illustrate Jackson’s description of the woman’s tactile, forward and flirtatious behaviour.
“She did touch Kyle Lafferty on the leg, for what it is worth,” he said.
“She did grab Will Grigg. She did stroke the face of the doctor.”
Claims the woman had lost her friends were also dismissed.
“It’s more like ditched her friends,” said Mr Kelly, suggesting she was waiting for someone else.
“A crowbar would not have moved her that night,” he said.
“As far as (the complainant) was concerned she was on a mission to party that night.”
After almost two hours, Mr Kelly told the court the headline in the case was consent.
“Have the prosecution proven a lack of consent?” he asked jurors.
There was no DNA evidence to suggest Jackson had penetrated the woman with his penis and his account to police could have easily been discredited, the lawyer suggested.
Mr Kelly said: “If there had been some forensics, which we all know there are not, that would be a reckless act of his.
“He went in, never before in a police station, at 8.30pm at night, gave an account that could have been blown out of the water.”
Mr Kelly is expected to complete his closing submission on Friday.
As he drew to a close for the day, he rejected as “nonsense” questions raised by the prosecution about the need for the woman to take the morning after pill.
“If you are right that she has chosen to invent that account so as to persuade her mates and derail the rumour she is in lie mode.
“That morning when the dawn is ‘my God this could be on social media, I have to run the lie of the classic rape victim otherwise my life is ruined’.”
The case has been adjourned until Friday.
Dismissing the jury for the day, Judge Patricia Smyth reminded them to keep their minds open.
The judge said: “We still have some way to go before hearing everything there is to be said.”
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