Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding walked from court innocent men, but their involvement in lewd exchanges has ultimately cost them their jobs.
While they were found unanimously not guilty of raping the same woman at a party at Jackson’s house in June 2016, their general behaviour during and after the night in question drew a barrage of criticism - with claims of misogyny and disrespect.
Following the trial, both players expressed regret after acknowledging the woman at the centre of the rape allegation left their sexual encounter distressed.
Jackson said that made him “ashamed”, while Olding said he was sorry for the hurt caused to the complainant.
The related controversy around the WhatsApp chats heaped further pressure on the Ulster and Irish rugby authorities to act.
The crude exchanges were meant to be private, but they were outlined during the trial in graphic detail.
Jackson, Olding and co-accused Rory Harrison and Blane McIlroy all participated.
Their content had already cast a cloud of uncertainty over the stars’ playing futures long before the jury delivered its acquittals.
Irish and Ulster star Craig Gilroy, who had no involvement in the incident, was also disciplined and suspended for sending one explicit message
Here are some of the messages aired during the marathon trial.
- Exchanges on a WhatsApp group called Jacome (Harrison was not included) hours after the alleged incident on June 28, 2016
11:17 Olding : We are all top shaggers.
11:18 Olding: There was a bit of spit roasting going on last night fellas.
Jackson immediately posted: There was a lot of spit.
Olding: It was like a merry-go-round at a carnival.
Another friend asks: Why?
11:49 Jackson sends photographs of three other women at the party.
11:51 Friend: Who are they? Brasses (slang term for prostitute)
Friend: F***ing Fantastic.
- WhatsApp communication between CG (later revealed to be Craig Gilroy) and Olding
CG: How was she?
Olding: She was very, very loose.
CG: Any sluts get f***ed
Olding: Precious secrets (he said it was a reference to Lord Of The Rings)
- McIlroy sent a photograph of three women who were at the party to a WhatsApp group involving friends in America known as The Juicers. He captioned the picture: “Love Belfast Sluts”.
- Separate communication between McIlroy and Harrison
11:40 McIlroy: What the f*** was going on? Last night was hilarious.
Response unknown/not recovered.
12:06 McIlroy: Really f*** sake. Did you calm her, where did she live.
Harrison: Mate no joke she was in hysterics. Wasn’t going to end well. Aye just threw her home then back to mine.
13:05 Harrison: Mate the scenes last night were hilarious.
13:06 McIlroy: Was a good night I loved it.
Harrison replies immediately: Walked upstairs and there were more flutes than 12th July.