'Rory Harrison is not a weasel,' says barrister in closing speech of rugby rape trial

Update - 2.17pm: The barrister for Rory Harrison, Gavan Duffy, has finished his closing speech in the trial of two Irish rugby players accused of raping the same woman in June 2016.

Referring to the alleged complainant, Gavan Duffy QC, representing Mr Harrison, said: "This is someone who has done something they regretted and, as a consequence, wheels have been put into motion which are impossible to halt. And here we all are."

As he drew his two-hour speech to a close, Mr Duffy said: "Rory Harrison is not a weasel.

"Rory Harrison is not a criminal. Rory Harrison is a decent person.

"Rory Harrison should not be here. But he is."

The lawyer urged the jury to acquit.

He told the jury: "You cannot undo this prosecution. No one can.

"What you can do, is do justice to your oath and that requires that you to find Rory Harrison not guilty of both of these counts."

Update - 12.47pm: Closing speeches are continuing in the trial of two Irish rugby players accused of raping the same woman in June 2016.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding deny raping the then 19-year-old student at a party in Jackson’s south Belfast home.

Blane McIlroy is facing one count of exposure and Rory Harrison denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

Mr Harrison’s barrister Gavan Duffy began his closing address by asking the jurors not to allow sympathy or prejudices affect their judgement.

Rory Harrison.

He said his client asked all the questions asked of him in an “honest, straightforward and candid manner.”

He accused the police of not treating him fairly following his arrest.

He said he was not told he was going to be arrested when he was invited to attend the police station four months after giving his witness statement and he said he was refused a copy of that statement when he asked for it.

He described his character was “exemplary” and asked when did he become a “weasel” as suggested by the prosecution.

He said people with good character are less likely to commit a criminal offence and are more likely to tell the truth when called to give evidence.

Earlier: A barrister for a friend of two rugby stars on trial for rape has begun to deliver his closing speech to Belfast Crown Court.

Gavan Duffy QC, representing Rory Harrison, who denies charges connected to the alleged incident in June 2016, told jurors they held a "huge amount of power" but warned they must be sure of any verdict.

Turning towards the eight men and three women, the defence counsel said: "There is one power that is removed from you.

"That is the power to change your mind."

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

Mr Duffy told jurors they could not revisit the verdict in a week, a month or a year's time.

He added: "You cannot undo a verdict once you have reached it."

Paddy Jackson, 26, from Belfast's Oakleigh Park, and Stuart Olding, 25, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

Blane McIlroy, 26, denies exposure while Harrison, 25, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

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