Today at Laganside Crown Court, Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding, Blane McIlroy and Rory Harrison were cleared of all charges against them.
Jackson and Olding were found not guilty of rape, McIlory was found not guilty of exposure, and Harrison was found not guilty of perverting the course of justice and withholding information.
During the course of the trial, the jury heard the content of WhatsApp and text messages shared between the defendants regarding the night in question.
The messages between the four defendants that punctuated that night out and the days following were read out in full in court by Toby Hedworth QC, senior counsel for the prosecution.
The content of WhatsApp and text message evidence put before the trial is reproduced here:
At 2:28am on the morning of 28 June, the complainant called Rory Harrison’s phone. At 2.28am she added him as a phone contact and as a WhatsApp contact.
At 2:36am, the complainant attempts to FaceTime Harrison after he attempted to FaceTime her.
At 2:39am, McIlroy makes a call to a cab company.
At 3:04am, the complainant messaged a friend of hers that she had been out in Ollie’s nightclub with to say, “I’m back at Paddy Jackson’s”. Her friend replied, “haha, how and why?” The complainant did not reply for almost seven hours.
At 3:32am, there was a message sent from Paul Jackson to his brother Paddy Jackson saying “need to keep it down a wee bit cos of the neighbours and it’s Monday”.
At 3:33am, a photo was taken on Dara Florence’s phone of the guys at the party dancing. Florence would later give evidence in court to say she had walked in on Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and the complainant in Jackson’s bedroom and said to her friend who was behind her, “Omg I’ve just seen a threesome.”
For eight minutes between 3:34am and 3:42am, Blane McIIroy took selfies in Jackson’s house and then published these in a WhatsApp group he was a member of.
At 3:48am, Paddy Jackson took photos of Blane McIlroy on the sofa with three girls, none of whom were the complainant. Two minutes later, Dara Florence took photos of Paddy Jackson.
At 4:09am, Rory Harrison started to dial a number but deleted it. Then he called Value Cabs, then a minute later he called Value Cabs again.
At 4:27am, there was a WhatsApp message from McIlroy to Jackson asking, “Is there a possibility of a threesome?”
At 4:52am, there was a 54-second call from Blane McIlroy’s phone to Rory Harrison’s phone.
At 4:58am, Rory Harrison calls fonaCAB.
The content of two text messages sent from Rory Harrison to two different numbers, one at 4:59am and one at 5am, were unavailable to the police.
There was a message from Blane McIIroy to Rory Harrison saying, “What’s happening, you coming back here?”
Then at 5:09am, a voice call from Harrison’s mobile to McIlroy lasting two minutes and nine seconds.
At 5:15am, there is CCTV footage from outside of the complainant’s home of Rory Harrison walking her to her front door.
At 5:16am, Rory Harrison sent a message to the complainant saying, “Keep the chin up you wonderful young woman.” She replies to say, “Thank you so much for leaving me home, I really appreciate it Rory, you’ve been far too kind.”
Rory Harrison then replies, “My pleasure…have you earphones close?”
Rory Harrison then sent a media file to the complainant, the content of which was not available to the police. When he was questioned in October 2016, he told the police he couldn’t recall what song he sent the complainant.
There is then a break in communications between all parties until the following morning.
At 9:13am, a WhatsApp message was sent from Jackson to Olding, the content of which is unavailable, then a call from Jackson to Olding which is missed, as is a FaceTime from Jackson to Olding, and again a voice call from Jackson to Olding which is missed at 9:15am.
At 9:51am, the complainant messages the same friend she told she was back at Paddy Jackson’s house to say, “worst night ever, so I got raped.”
At 10:08am in response to Rory Harrison’s message about the earphones, the complainant replies “yea, why? lol.”
In the same minute, the complainant messaged another friend to say, “So I got raped by 3 Ulster fucking rugby scum brilliant fucking night.”
At 10:10am, a friend of Stuart Olding’s messaged him to ask, “How was she?”
In the interlude before Olding replied to his friend, the complainant was messaging the first friend she told, further explaining what happened. These messages were not read out in court in full this week, as they had been heard in detail by the jury previously.
The messages did appear on the timeline of digital evidence that Toby Hedworth was reading from and so they are reproduced here. The two girls were messaging over a period of hours, but their messages are grouped together below.
The complainant: “I feel sick.”
The friend continued: “I’m so sorry.”
And in a series of texts the complainant said: “I was entirely fine going back to that afters.”
“So went back to their house. There were three other girls too.
“Good fun for a while then the girls started to get slutty.
“There was one guy I really didn’t like and I was like right I’m going to go now.
“Went to get my shoes but my clutch was upstairs.
“Went to get it and Paddy Jackson came up behind me.
“He’d already tried it on earlier and I firmly told him where to go.
“The next thing I’m bent over the bed.
“I have bruising on my inner thighs. I feel like I’ve got bruising literally on my fanny. They were so rough I’ve got my period a week earlier.”
The friend asked: “Were there more than one?”
The complainant responded: “Two and then a third tried to get involved. I was crying.”
The friend told her: “I’m so sorry.”
The complainant then told her friend that a “really nice guy” brought her home.
When her friend tried to call her, she replied, “I can’t take a call. I don’t want anyone to hear.”
The friend told her that she needed to “get swabbed right now” and that she needed to tell the police.
The complainant replied: ” I’m not going to the police. I’m not going up against Ulster Rugby. Yea because that’ll work”
The friend said: “I’m never leaving you on your own again.”
The complainant replied: “I was crying and saying, ‘at least use a condom’ and Paddy Jackson said, ‘I am.”
The complainant told her friend that a fourth man got her into a taxi and brought her home.
The complainant told her friend, “I was bawling the whole way home.”
When her friend asked if she was going to report to the police, the complainant replied, “I’d report it if I knew they’d get done but they won’t.”
The friend said the complainant should go to a Rape Crisis centre and get the morning-after pill.
The complainant said to her friend: “Like I hadn’t even shaved my legs…had only tanned the bottom of them and my arms. I wasn’t up or ready for fucking anything.”
Her friend messaged back: “This does not define your life from now on. You need counselling. You just cannot deal with this on your own. You need to get a full screening. This is beyond serious now”.
At the same time, these messages were going on between the two friends, the defendants in the case were messaging their own friends and each other about the previous night.
Just before 11am, Olding responded to his friend who’d asked how the complainant was to say, “she was very very loose.”
Olding then responded to a friend who asked “Any tips or stories Simon?”
To which Olding replied, “Went to Cutters, Ollies, then after-party”
The friend then asked, “Any sluts get fucked?” To which Olding replied, “precious secrets….”
At 11:16am, another friend of some of the defendants and one of the participants in the JACOME WhatsApp, a group including Stuart Olding, Paddy Jackson and Blane McIlroy, posted, “I said tonight is your lucky night.”
At 11:17am, Olding responds to the JACOME WhatsApp group to say, “we are all top shaggers” and “there was a bit of spit roasting going on last night fellas.”
Jackson adds, “There was a lot of spit roast last night.”
Olding says, “It was like a merry go round at the carnival.”
Another member of the group, referred to in court as ‘JE’ then asks, “who?”
Blane McIlroy then sends Harrison a WhatsApp message saying “What the fuck was going on. Last night was hilarious.”
The complainant at this point is messaging another friend of hers to say, “They are scum. It’s that schoolboy rugby attitude times a million.”
Back in the JACOME WhatsApp group, JE, as he was referred to in court, asks, “Who?”
Jackson then posts photos to the group of the images taken the night previously of Blane McIlroy sitting on the sofa with three girls, none of whom are the complainant.
JE in JACOME asks, “Who are they, brassers?”
McIlroy responds, “Aye.”
JE replies, “Fucking Fantastic.”
McIIroy says, “Just a sample of how loose JACOME will be.”
Jackson tells the group, “Whole NI squad were out last night.”
JE replies, “Deece, where you do, Ollies?”
At 12:01pm, Harrison responds to the complainant’s earlier reply about the music to say, “Ha, it was a song to calm you down before bed, never mind,” followed by another message, “feeling better today?”
Two minutes later, there is a message exchange between McIlroy and Harrison. Some of these messages were later deleted and not recovered by the police. The messages referred to in court were:
McIlroy -“Really, fuck sake, did you calm her, where does she live?”
Harrison – “Mate no jokes she was in hysterics, wasn’t going to end well.”
At 12:06pm, McIIroy reverts to the JACOME group to respond – “the whole squad.”
Then Harrison in a deleted message to McIlroy said, “Aye, just threw her home then went back to mine.”
Back in the JACOME WhatsApp group:
The WhatsApp group member referred to in court as JE comments “he’s seven foot and he plays the flute.”
There is then a message that was deleted from McIIroy to Harrison.
At 12:15pm, the complainant responds to Harrison about the music he was going to send her, to ask what song it was, and then says, “To be honest no, I know you must be mates with those guys but I don’t like them and what happened was not consensual which is why I was so upset. Again, thank you for taking me home. That was really appreciated.”
Rory Harrison replies five minutes later to say, “Jesus” and then, “I’m not sure what to say.”
There is then a series of exchanges between Harrison and McIIroy which were subsequently deleted, and at 1:05pm, Harrison says “I have to pick my dog up at 2.30” and then “mate the scenes last night were hilarious.”
To which McIIroy replies, “It was a good night, I loved it.”
Harrison then says, “Walked upstairs and there were more flutes than the 12th of July.”
McIIroy replies, “not sure, these two are fucking about,” He then says, “haha, so funny.”
Harrison asks, “Who else there, Paul?”
Harrison sends another message saying “I can swing by for you if needs be” and “I’ll hop in the shower now.”
At 1:08pm, McIlroy posts to a different WhatsApp group called ‘The Juicers’ a photo of the three other girls at the party sitting on his knee and adds the caption “Love Belfast Sluts.”
At 1.22pm Harrison makes a 10 second call to McIlroy.
At 1:38pm, McIlroy sends a message to Harrison to ask “you near?” This message was later deleted.
At 1:38pm, Harrison makes a 11-second call to McIlroy.
At 1:45pm, within the JACOME group, one member, referred to in court as ‘AA’ asks, “Boys, did you pass spit roast brassers” He then asks a minute later, “why are we all such legends?”
At 2:06pm, McIlroy’s phone logs onto the WiFi at Soul Food Café on Ormeau Road, where Jackson, Olding, McIIroy and Harrison went for lunch.
At 2:31pm, McIlroy replies to the earlier message from the group member referred to as AA – “why are we all such legends” – with, “I know it’s ridiculous.”
At 2:40pm, McIlroy calls fonaCAB.
At 3:20pm, the complainant messages a male friend to say “Are you in Belfast? I have a huge favour to ask, I need to go to Newry.”
The friend replies, “Why?”
The complainant explains, “I got raped last night, have to go to get forensic samples taken.”
The friend replies “Omg, that’s terrible, by who?”
The complainant responds, “I’m in the Brooke now, 2 ulster rugby guys.”
The friend replies, “I can’t bring you down, have to get parents from airport. ….this is awful what happened ….are you ok…I’m not going to say to anyone don’t worry.”
The complainant responds, “Paddy Jackson and one blond guy and some other guy tried to get involved. honestly it was horrible.”
The friend asks, “are you going to the police, I really hope you are ok.” He then says “what was the blond guy’s name, how did it all come about.”
The complainant replies, “no I don’t want to get the police involved, you know how it goes, they won’t get charged and I’ll have to go through police interviews…”
At 4:41pm, Harrison sends Olding a video, the content of which is not available to the court.
On 29 June, the day after the complainant visited the Rowan Sexual Assualt Referral Centre, she made a statement to the police to report sexual crimes she alleged were committed against her.
On 30 June, the court heard that someone sent a message from Kingspan to Paddy Jackson saying, “Paddy phone your solicitor they’re telling me you’ll need one” to which Paddy Jackson replied, “I don’t have a solicitor, who should I contact.”
Kingspan is the rugby stadium in Belfast that is home to the Ulster Rugby team.
At 11:48am, shortly before Jackson and Olding were arrested, McIlroy sends a WhatsApp message to a friend which says “Pumped a girl with Jacko on Monday. Roasted her. Then another on Tuesday night.”
At 4:43pm, Harrison and McIIroy speak on the phone, at this point Harrison has given his statement to the police and Jackson and Olding are in the police station.
10 minutes later, they are exchanging further messages.
At 4.53pm on 30 June, McIlroy texts Rory Harrison saying, “Do Paddy and Stu have a lawyer and stuff. When do you reckon they’ll be released…do his parents know?”
Harrison replies, “No idea – they didn’t tell me anything. if not my dad will know who to get on to.”
And so begins a number of exchanges between Harrison and McIIroy, ending with McIIroy being called by the police to present himself to the police station.
McIlroy asks, “Do you know who this girl even is, this is ridiculous, surely it’s all just gonna get dropped?”
Harrison replies with the complainant’s name.
McIIroy asks, “What age, what school?”
Harrison replies, “hopefully” and “I don’t know.”
Harrison says, “He didn’t say anyone in particular. Hopefully it’ll be thrown out, Just a silly girl who’s been done something then regretted it. She’s causing so much trouble for the lads…“Yeah if that got out like. The other thing is the cops went straight to Les Kiss which is fucking ridiculous.”
McIIroy replies, “Yeah surely the cops can’t disclose that to Les Kiss.”
Harrison says, “Could be a law suit if it’s just dismissed though you’re drawing attention to it.”
McIlroy replies, “I don’t know how that stuff works, what station are they in?”
McIIroy then asks if the police told Harrison what Jackson and Olding are being charged with. Harrrison replies, “No, they just said an allegation, they didn’t say.”
The messages between the friends then come in quick succession.
Harrison – “They just came to my house and asked for a statement, they didn’t offer any details.”
McIlroy – “Fair enough, disaster.”
McIlroy – “How did last night go anyway good night?”
Harrison – “Yeah good fun.”
McIlroy – “Where you all go?”
Harrison – “All a bit irrelevant now with all this fucking shite going on..”
McIlroy – “Yeah obvs.”
McIlroy – “Do you think there’s anything we can be doing to help – make sure lawyer down there?”
Harrison – “I’m sure they’ll have sorted that.”
Harrison – “When Les rang Jacko, Bryn called Stu – they couldn’t say anything to them, just said go to the station.”
McIlroy – “Yeah fair enough, did they drive down? what time been in there?”
Harrison – “Just walked in, not sure, maybe 1ish.”
McIlroy – “How did they get down, I’m sure they’re still hanging, what your dad been saying about it all?”
Harrison – “ Not a lot, said it was very significant your one followed Jacko up the stairs. Didn’t comment cos don’t know what’s being alleged.”
McIlroy – “Did she follow him? I can’t remember an awful lot.”
Harrison – “Aw me neither.”
McIlroy – “Did you tell the police we were all fucked?”
Harrison – “just said we were all drinking. …but not one out of control. Can’t even contact the boys, feel awful.”
McIlroy – “Yeah true. Can they not have visitors or anything?”
Harrison – “Don’t know mate just have to sit tight.”
McIlroy- “No idea how long they’ll be there.”
McIlroy – “Surely not longer than a day.”
Harrison – “Hopefully not.”
McIlroy – “Worse case scenario how long could they be detained.”
Harrison – “Don’t know Blaner. My statement was surreal – were you with Paddy Jackson or Stuart Olding outside the nightclub? No I was with Will Grigg.”
McIlroy – “really?”
Harrison – “yeah ridiculous in fairness.”
McIlroy – “what did they say when you said that?”
Harrison – “nearly burst out laughing.”
McIlroy – “That’s ridiculous. I might say I was playing the flute with Kyle Lafferty.”
McIlroy – “I couldn’t even tell you what I was doing outside the club.”
At 5.37 Blane McIIroy picked up a call from the police.
McIlroy – “they just called for me I have to go down now.”
McIlroy – “had the other 3 girls left when this girl left?”
Harrison – “yeah bar the one in with Stu.”
At around 7.00pm McIIroy tries to call Rory Harrison. Harrison replies via WhatsApp.
Harrison- “Sorry I’m out for dinner and can’t speak. Let me know when you’re done…”
Harrison – “I’d say leave your phone.”
That is where the transcript ends.