Ulster rugby rape trial faces more delays after second juror falls sick

A rape trial of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players has been delayed because of a sick juror.

Judge Patricia Smyth told Belfast Crown Court: "I cannot say at this stage when the trial will resume, that depends on the juror."

The high profile case, in its sixth week, may now take the unusual step of sitting on Saturday morning in a bid to make up time.

Rugby players court case
Rory Harrison arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is on trial accused of perverting the course of justice and withholding information (Liam McBurney/PA)

Judge Smyth added: "We have been making enquiries about various possibilities to ensure that the trial remains on track."

The judge added: "I appreciate this is yet another infringement on your own private lives."

Last week the 12 person jury panel was reduced to 11 after another juror was discharged because of illness.

Addressing those who remained on the jury panel, the judge reiterated warnings not to discuss the evidence.

Judge Smyth said: "Because there is a break, please be on your guard and avoid situations where you think people might put you under pressure.

"Just tell people you cannot talk about this trial."

Belfast courts stock
Judge Smyth told jurors at Belfast Crown Court they must not talk about the case (Niall Carson/PA)

Last week prosecutors concluded their case and the trial was due enter its next phase where the four defendants could give evidence if the wished or call witnesses on their behalf.

Paddy Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast and Stuart Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a house party in south Belfast in June 2016.

Jackson also denies another charge of sexual assault.

Blane McIlroy, 26, of Royal Lodge Road, Belfast denies one count of exposure while Rory Harrison, 25, of Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The trial has been adjourned until further notice.

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