Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding trial: ‘I panicked and deleted texts’ says friend of rugby players

Blaine McIlroy arrives Laganside Magistrates court this morning  'Picture By: Pacemaker.
Blaine McIlroy arrives Laganside Magistrates court this morning 'Picture By: Pacemaker.

A friend of the two Ulster rugby players accused of rape has admitted deleting text messages from his phone when he realised there was a police investigation.

Blane McIlroy told the rugby rape trial on Friday that he “panicked” and thought the messages “didn’t read well”, so he deleted them before he handed his phone over to police.

“When the police phoned me, I panicked and thought they didn’t read well. In hindsight I shouldn’t have,” he said.

The messages had been exchanged with friends, including one sent to Rory Harrison, who is accused of perverting the course of justice.

One of the messages was sent to Harrison after he dropped the alleged victim home in a taxi.

The court previously heard the woman had been upset on the journey home.

The message from McIlroy to Harrison read: “Really? f**k sake. Did you calm her? Where did she live?”

McIlroy said he was not worried about the messages, but he thought they might be read in the wrong way by police.

The court heard he handed his phone into police when he went to be interviewed as part of their investigation into the woman’s allegations of rape.

The 26 year-old also told the court that he did not feel good about other messages he had sent to friends with references to sexual activity.

“(It was) boasting about something that didn’t happen to that extent. It was silly boasting. I don’t feel good about it,” he said.

Referring to a photograph of himself with three women that he sent to some friends in a Whatsapp group with the message “Love Belfast sluts”, McIlroy said: “It is not a true reflection of the girls, and I’m not happy with it.”

McIlroy is on trial alongside Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, and Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street in the city, who are both charged with raping the same woman following a night out in Belfast on June 28, 2016.

Rory Harrison, 25, of Manse Road, Belfast, is charged with perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

They deny all the charges.