PSNI officer suspected Ulster Rugby players of involvement in rape allegation

A police officer suspected Ulster Rugby players may have been involved in an alleged rape before the complainant disclosed any names, a court has heard.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) constable said suspicions were raised when the alleged victim described her attackers as high profile.

He said: "When she mentioned Ollies, I suspected that maybe Ulster Rugby players were involved.

"When I asked her might they be Ulster Rugby, she said they were."

The officer was giving evidence to the jury of nine men and three women at Belfast Crown Court.

He said he was aware, through family connections, that Ulster Rugby players socialised in Ollies, a nightclub in Belfast city centre.

"Initially she said these are high profile people and she wouldn't identify them to me," he said.

However, the woman later named the players Paddy Jackson, Stuart Olding and a third man Blane McIlroy, the court heard.

The officer was the first member of the PSNI to speak to the alleged victim.

According to his notes, she was "crying" and "upset". She was also concerned about publicity and did not want her family to know about what had allegedly happened, the court was told.

Four men are standing trial on charges connected with the alleged rape.

Paddy Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast; Stuart Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street in Belfast; Blane McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast and Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, deny all the charges against them.

During cross examination by Brendan Kelly QC, representing Jackson, the officer was asked if the complainant had told police about any witnesses to her "grave allegations".

Mr Kelly said: "During the course of that maybe two hours, it is clear that the witness Rory Harrison was mentioned and also another friend who accompanied her to the police station and the Rowan (rape crisis centre) but also the first person she reported it to.

"What about any other witnesses?" Mr Kelly asked.

The officer responded: "She did not mention any other witnesses."

The case continues.