Belfast rape trial: Jury warned to set emotion aside and focus on evidence

All four men deny the charges against them

Belfast rape trial: Jury warned to set emotion aside and focus on evidence

Laganside Courts in Belfast. Picture by: Liam McBurney/PA Wire/PA Images

Updated 12:55

This article contains graphic details which some readers may find distressing

The judge in Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding’s rape trial has begun her charge to the eight men and three women of the jury.

Ulster and Ireland rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding are accused of raping a 19-year-old student at Jackson’s home in south Belfast in June 2016.

Their friend Rory Harrison is facing charges of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Another friend Blane McIlroy is accused of one count of exposure.

All four deny the charges against them.

The judge’s charge is the final step in the trial process before the jurors are sent out to begin their deliberations and is an opportunity for her to sum up the evidence heard and give some directions on the relevant law.

Judge Patricia Smyth began by asking the jurors not to allow themselves be drawn into speculation and to guard against sympathy.

She said cases allegations of sexual assault can arouse a great deal of emotion in all of us but she asked them to set their emotions to one side and to just look at the evidence in a clinical manner.

She also asked them to ignore any stereotypes relating to rape, a rapist or an alleged victim of rape because, she said, it’s impossible to predict how a person will react in the aftermath. “There’s no classic reaction,” she said.

She asked them to look at the evidence in a “fair and calm” way and she told them not to allow their own morals to influence their views on the matter.

Judge Smyth is now going through the relevant law in relation to the various charges faced by each of the four accused.

If you have been affected by anything mentioned in this article you can contact the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre National 24-Hour helpline on 1800 77 88 88.