Trial of rugby players accused of rape 'not a court of morals'

The trial of two Ireland and Ulster rugby players accused of rape is not a court of morals, a defence barrister has argued.

In his summing up, Brendan Kelly QC also told jurors the prosecution case was critically flawed.

Turning to the eight men and women on the jury panel, he said: "A warning to everyone. It is not a court of morals. Nor will you try this case on any emotion, or sympathy."

The lawyer had earlier told jurors they had to decide where the truth lies.

"It is perhaps common sense but it is what we all know, consistency is the hallmark of truth. Liars deviate," he said.

Paddy Jackson, 26, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast, denies rape and sexual assault. His Ireland and Ulster teammate, Stuart Olding, also denies rape.

Two others on trial on charges connected to the alleged assault on June 28 2016 have also pleaded not guilty.

Earlier Mr Kelly said the 11-person panel had to be completely sure before they could convict.

"You need to be convinced," the lawyer said. "Convinced of a man's guilt before you can convict. If you are sure, no hesitation your duty to convict. If you are less than sure, your duty to acquit.

"It is as stark as that."

He told the court the purpose of the defence submission was to test the evidence but cautioned: "This particular case is critically flawed and has been so flawed since June 28.

"It is critically flawed by inconsistencies and it is flawed by untruth, flawed we will submit to its core."

Consent is at the heart of the case, the lawyer suggested, saying it is a key matter for the jury when considering the "grave" allegations.

Mr Kelly said: "A drunken consent is still consent.

"Regret has no bearing on consent.

"Bear that in mind when you try these counts."