Judiciary to Review Rape Trials after Jackson-Olding Case

The News Letter (Belfast, Northern Ireland), April 17, 2018 | Go to article overview

Judiciary to Review Rape Trials after Jackson-Olding Case


The judge who presided over the trial of Ireland and Ulster Rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding is being consulted on how rape trials in Northern Ireland are conducted.

Last month, both players were unanimously acquitted by a jury of raping the same woman at Jackson's Belfast home in June 2016.

The trial was covered extensively in the media, leading to concerns that many rape victims would be deterred from reporting attacks.

Others expressed concerns that the defendants were being simultaneously tried on social media, and that their reputations were being diminished by the level of detail about their private WhatsApp messages entering the public domain.

Despite being acquitted by the jury, both men had their IRFU and Ulster contracts terminated as a result of the lewd and derogatory messages sent between the players.

Judge Patricia Smyth, who oversaw the nine-week trial, is one of a number of senior judges being consulted by the lord chief justice (LCJ) about potential legal reforms.

A spokeswoman for the LCJ said: "The lord chief justice is aware of the issues raised by the recent high-profile trial. He has begun discussions with the trial judge and other senior Crown Court judges to consider whether there are any steps the courts can take that do not require legislation to deal with some of the issues."

Earlier this week, Victim Support NI (VSNI) wrote to both the justice department and the LCJ setting out a number of reasons why "now is the time to take action". …

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