A friend of two Ulster rugby players accused of rape has told a court that Paddy Jackson would be “the last person in the world” to rape someone.
Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road in Belfast, who denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information, began giving evidence today (Saturday).
He described being “fairly drunk” and could not remember getting back to Paddy Jackson’s south Belfast house where the rape is alleged to have happened on June 28 2016.
Answering questions from his defence barrister Gavan Duffy QC, he described being “good friends” with rape accused Jackson.
“He’s a good friend of mine, I would not get to see him very much until this had all begun,” he said.
Harrison told the court the complainant had been “staring” at Ireland rugby player Jackson during the party where the rape is alleged to have happened on June 28 2016.
He said: “I think she was looking at Paddy. It is something that I would notice on a night out, that people would look at him because he is recognisable and famous.”
He added: “I noticed it and I thought she was staring a bit longer considering we were at the house and she knew he was there.”
He told the court he saw the woman “follow” Jackson upstairs.
He said: “Yes, I noticed (the complainant) following him up.
“After I seen her stare at him I thought that’s where she was going, that’s maybe why she was following him.”
Harrison told the court he believed the complainant was upset when she left the house because she had been “rejected” by Jackson.
Gavan Duffy QC asked: “Did you speculate to yourself about what might have happened?”
Harrison replied: “Yes, I thought that maybe she had been rejected by Paddy.”
Mr Duffy added: “It has been speculated by the Crown that you knew or believed that she had been the victim of rape at that time?”
Harrison replied: “No, I did not.”
Later, he denied attempting to cover up or “manage” the situation.
Jackson would be the “last person” to rape someone, Harrison told Belfast Crown Court, answering questions from his defence barrister Mr Duffy.
He was asked about his reaction to a message from the complainant hours after the alleged attack, in which she told him what happened was not consensual.
Harrison said: “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.”
Paddy Jackson, 26, of Oakleigh Park, Belfast and Stuart Olding, 24, of Ardenlee Street in the city, both deny raping the same woman on June 28, 2016.
Blane McIlroy, 26, of Royal Lodge Road, Belfast, denies a charge of exposure.
The case continues.