Ireland and Ulster rugby player Paddy Jackson arrives at his rape trial in Belfast
Two top rugby players on trial for rape boasted about their sexual activity on WhatsApp, a court has heard.
Ireland and Ulster stars Stuart Olding, 24, and Paddy Jackson, 26, are accused of raping the same woman at a property in south Belfast in June 2016.
The jury in their trial heard claims they spoke about being ‘top sh*gg*rs’ on the messaging app.
Details of mobile phone communications were given to the jury during the opening day of the high-profile trial at Belfast Crown Court.
The court heard that Olding allegedly wrote on WhatsApp ‘We are all top sh*gg*rs, before adding: ‘It was like a merry-go-around at a carnival.’
It is also alleged that Paddy Jackson replied on the same WhatsApp messaging service: ‘There was a lot of spit.’
The case, which has been scheduled to last for five weeks, is being heard before Judge Patricia Smyth.
Jackson faces a further charge of sexual assault. Both men strenuously deny the charges.
Two other men have also been charged in connection with the alleged incident on June 28, 2016.
Blane McIlroy, 26, from Belfast, is accused of one count of exposure.
Jackson, right, is on trial alongside fellow rugby player Stuart Olding, pictured left. The court heard claims they exchange messages about sex on WhatApp
Rory Harrison, 25, also from Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC, said: ‘This case, say the prosecution, concerns allegations of serious sexual misconduct by the first three defendants, and attempts by their friend, the fourth defendant to cover up their conduct.
‘It involves a young woman going to an after-party with other females at the home of a well-known sportsman, Patrick Jackson, the first defendant.
‘He was accompanied by the remaining defendants, who were all close friends of his.
‘The night ended, we say, with the first two defendants engaging in sexual activity with that young woman against her wishes, as they well knew or as they simply were not interested in considering. The third was hoping to join in.’
The court heard the woman had been with friends in the VIP area of Ollie’s nightclub in Belfast’s Merchant Hotel.
Also present were members of the Ulster rugby team and some Northern Ireland footballers.
At closing time, the woman went with a group of women to a party at Jackson’s home and ended up in Jackson’s bedroom, the court heard.
The jury were told not to make any stereotypical assumptions about parties in the case based on the fact two of them are sportsmen. Pictured: Jackson ahead of an Ireland match in 2016
Prosecutor Mr Hedworth said: ‘She does recall that at one stage she was in that room and was consensually kissing him but had made it plain to him that she would go no further.’
They returned downstairs and later she decided to leave ‘because the atmosphere changed’, returning to the bedroom to get her bag.
Mr Hedworth said: ‘She had not returned up the stairs with Jackson but he had followed her up and into bedroom, where he pushed her onto the bed.’
He then forced himself on her and raped her without seeking her consent to sex, the court heard.
The jury was told the alleged victim did not try to fight Jackson off and felt ‘numb’.
When Olding entered the room, it was claimed she recalled saying: ‘Please not him as well.’
Blane McIlroy (left) is accused of exposure after allegedly trying to get involved in the alleged rape before the woman fled. Rory Harrison (right) is accused of withholding information
Olding then forced himself on the woman, the court heard. McIlroy then entered the room and woman fled, the prosecutor said.
Mr Hedworth said: ‘He said ‘you f****d these guys why not me?’ to which she responded ‘how many times does it take for a girl to say no before it sinks in.’
In a text message to a friend the following day, the woman said she had been ‘raped by three Ulster f*****g rugby scum.’
But she also expressed reluctance to go to police, saying: ‘Thing is I would report it if I knew they would get done. But they won’t. And that’s unnecessary stress for me. It’s also humiliating…
‘It will be my word against theirs, not like they have cctv in their house and because there’s more of them and they’ll all have the same fabricated story about me being some slut who was up for it.’
She eventually did go to the police and a taxi driver who took her home was traced. He said she had been very upset
The woman and the rugby players were at this nightclub in Belfast before the alleged attack
During the lengthy opening statement, Mr Hedworth warned jurors against applying stereotypical images of those involved.
He said: ‘As this case concerns a young woman going to an after-party with young sportsmen, there is the danger that stereotypical views are taken of what such a complainant should expect.
‘Equally, there may be stereotypical views of the behaviour of young men, particularly when in drink and with their friends.’
Setting out the case, the prosecutor added: ‘Effectively, this group of friends were keen to have sexual activity with this young woman, regardless of whether or not she was prepared to do so.
All four defendants have pleaded not guilty and are on bail. The trial continues.
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