A long-standing friend of Paddy Jackson has told Belfast Crown Court he didn’t tell the Ulster and Ireland rugby player about a message he received from the alleged victim “because he didn’t believe” her allegations.
Rory Harrison told Belfast Crown Court today (Saturday) that Jackson would be the “last person in the world” to rape someone.
Harrison, 25, from Manse Road in Belfast, is accused of perverting the course of justice and withholding information about the attack alleged to have happened after a night out in June 2016.
He was asked about a message hours later in which the complainant stated what happened had not been consensual.
Harrison told the court: “My initial reaction was shock that something had happened she was not consenting to.
“The more I thought about it, I have known Patrick since I was eight or nine. He is the last person in the world to rape someone.
“I didn’t believe it. I thought she had maybe done something and then regretted it.”
Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast and Stuart Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street in the city deny raping the same woman at a house party in Jackson’s home during the early hours of June 28, 2016.
Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.
The court had taken the unusual step of sitting on a Saturday in a bid to make up time in the high profile case.
Harrison spent almost two hours being questioned by his defence barrister Gavan Duffy QC.
He dismissed the woman’s message and did not inform Jackson of its content when they met for lunch the following day, the court was told.
When asked why, the defendant said: “Because I did not believe it.
“I did not want to worry him (Jackson) about something I had absolutely no faith was true.”
Harrison, who has a history degree from UCD, has been close friends with the accused for years.
He attended Methodist College in Belfast alongside Jackson and met Olding later through rugby.
Answering questions about his perception of Jackson in social situations, he said: “He’s exactly the same guy I knew at mini rugby when I was eight or nine as he is now despite all he has been through.”
Mr Duffy asked: “Has he been changed by his success?”
“Not at all,” Harrison said.
The case continues.