Acquitted Stuart Olding apologises for hurt to woman at centre of case

Stuart Olding has apologised for the hurt caused to the woman who had accused him of rape.

In a statement, read by his solicitor outside Belfast Crown Court after his acquittal, the Ireland and Ulster rugby star also expressed regret and told of his relief that he had been believed.

Speaking on his behalf, solicitor Paul Dougan said: "I am very relieved that the jury has accepted my explanation as to what occurred.

"I want to acknowledge publicly that though I committed no criminal offence on the evening of the 28th of June 2016, I regret deeply the events of that evening.

"I want to acknowledge that the complainant came to court and gave evidence about her perception of those events.

"I am sorry for the hurt that was caused to the complainant.

"It was never my intention to cause any upset to anyone on that night.

"I don't agree with her perception of events, and I maintain that everything that happened that evening was consensual."

Olding, who had always denied the charge, said he had "consistently told the truth" to police and when he gave evidence on his own behalf during the nine week trial.

His statement added: "The Stuart Olding who has been portrayed over the past nine weeks in this trial is not the real Stuart Olding.

"I am fiercely proud to represent my province and my country. I have worked very hard to achieve those goals.

"I hope to be able to prove myself going forward in all aspects of my life.

"I would like to thank my legal team for their hard work and their belief in me throughout.

"And finally to my family, thank you all for standing by me from the beginning."

During the trial, Olding, like his co-accused, gave evidence on his own behalf.

He was asked during week six to explain controversial and explicit WhatsApp exchanges in which he boasted about sexual activity.

The rugby player described the messages, sent between friends, as immature bragging.

He told the court frankly: "I am certainly not proud talking like that.

"But I did it, I have done it and I shouldn't have done it."

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