Belfast rape trial prompts concerns over social media commentary

Belfast Crown

McIlroy and Harrison had alos denied the charges against them.

His team-mate Stuart Olding, 25, has also been found not guilty of rape.

The trial, which was described byJudge Patricia Smith as "the most hard. that any jury in Northern Ireland has ever been asked to adjudicate on", unfolded over nine weeks and ended on Wednesday.

People reacting to the "not guilty" verdict are turning to social media to support the woman who told the trial that Paddy Jackson had raped her and Stuart Olding forced her to perform oral sex on him and later Blane Mcllroy came into the bedroom naked, asking for sex.

In a joint statement following the verdict, the IRFU and Ulster Rugby said: "The IRFU and Ulster Rugby note the verdict handed down today at the Belfast Crown Court in relation to the case brought against Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding".

The acquittal of two global rugby players of rape has prompted an outpouring of online support for their alleged victim, under the hashtag #ibelieveher.

Outside the court today, Paddy Jackson thanked his family, barristers and solicitors.




"This price was paid despite the fact he is and has never been anything other than entirely innocent".

The rape was alleged to have happened during an afterparty at Jackson's home in south Belfast in June 28, 2016.

The professional rugby players will return to the pitch, their careers "blighted" by the false accusations, their lawyers said.

The 11-person jury, comprising of eight men and three women, delivered not guilty verdicts at Belfast Crown Court on Wednesday.

Olding told the court he had been "in complete control" of his actions despite a day of heavy drinking and that he was "100 percent sure" that what had happened had been consensual.

I am sorry for the hurt that was caused to the complainant.

He warned that despite the verdict, "vile commentary expressed on social media, going well beyond fair comment, have polluted the sphere of public discourse and raise real concerns about the integrity of the trial process".

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