Jackson and Olding rape acquittals faster than average, figures show

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were both cleared unanimously on March 28, 2018.
Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding were both cleared unanimously on March 28, 2018.

The time taken to clear Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding of rape was significantly faster than average.

That is the picture that emerges from a detailed News Letter analysis of Public Prosecution Service (PPS) statistics about rape cases.

In all it took from 636 days the date of their arrest, and 246 days from the date they were charged, before a jury unanimously acquitted the pair of all charges last Wednesday.

But data obtained by this newspaper under the Freedom of Information Act shows that this is a fraction of the time that many people who are accused and later acquitted of rape have to wait before they are cleared.

From the start of 2015 to the end of 2017 in Northern Ireland, there were 60 acquittals of people who had been facing either a rape charge, or a suite of charges which included rape (for example, they could have been charged simultaneously with a count of rape alongside other offences).

Starting from the date when these 60 people were either charged by police or informed that a file had been passed to prosecutors, the average time before they were acquitted of all charges was 755 days – just over two years.

Among them were two individuals who waited 1,518 days – or roughly four years and two months – before being acquitted.

The act of police charging an individual or of a file being sent to the PPS might only happen a long time after an individual first learns that a rape case is being built against them.

For example, in the case of Mr Olding and Mr Jackson, they were both first arrested in June 2016.

It is understood files were sent to prosecutors in January 2017.

Then they were not charged until the following July – more than a year after first being arrested.

As well as the 60 rape suspects who were acquitted of all offences from the start of 2015 to the end of 2017, during the same three-year period a total of 81 people faced court cases involving rape and other charges and were convicted of at least one offence, while seven people in cases involving rape were convicted of every charge levelled against them.