Best defends decision to go to trial days before match
Iain Henderson and Rory Best outside court in January. Inset, Paddy Jackson
affect part-funding his own defence has had on the rugby player in a prosecution he argued was flawed from the outset, adding: “His reputation was destroyed to the extent he cannot follow his profession in this country again.”
Mr O’Donoghue suggested the case against his client was flawed for a number of reasons, including a prematurity in charging Mr Olding and a misunderstanding of the facts due to inconsistencies in the complainant’s account.
Mr Olding financed his own defence up until February 19,
when an application for Legal Aid was made, and subsequently granted.
Arguing that after one count of vaginal rape was withdrawn against Mr Olding before the trial started, Mr O’Donoghue said his client shouldn’t have been prosecuted on the second charge of oral rape.
Telling the court “my client has suffered a huge financial detriment and that is why I am here”, the senior barrister spoke of the impact the prosecution and trial had on Mr Olding.
Asking Judge Smyth to take into account Mr Olding’s per- IRELAND captain Rory Best has stood by his decision to attend the Belfast rape trial of team-mates Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding and hopes that his kids would do the same if placed in a similar scenario.
Jackson and Olding were unanimously cleared of all charges after being accused of raping a 19-year-old woman after a night out in Belfast.
Best was widely criticised for attending the trial just days before Ireland’s Six Nations match against France in Paris in February.
There were widespread calls for Best to give up the Irish captaincy while the hashtag #NotMyCaptain trended on Twitter.
Following Ireland’s victory in Paris, Best revealed he attended the trial “because I am on record as a character witness. It was important I got both sides of the story”.
Judge Patricia Smyth added that Best was “instructed to attend by senior counsel”.
Speaking on BT Sport’s Rugby Tonight, Best spoke about the
sonal circumstances, Mr O’Donoghue said: “Mr Olding has had to exhaust his own personal funds. Before he accessed Legal Aid, he suffered the penalty of the financial burden of defending himself.
“He exhausted his disposable income by February 19 and he had a huge expenditure up until that date.
“He has been, as a consequence, completely unable to work in this jurisdiction. He had to leave his family, he had to leave his friends and he had to start afresh in a different country. He lost his international career, he lost his provincial “difficult time” he went through and how he hoped his kids would learn from the experience.
“It was a really, really difficult time,” said Best.
“The hardest thing for me was to try and guide Ulster through it while I was getting so much abuse myself. “There were a lot of people calling for me to step down, and I think the thing that got me through it was, ultimately, the support that Joe [Schmidt] and the senior players within Ireland gave me.
“I feel that it’s a lesson I hope my kids take from it. If you have friends that are in trouble and they need a bit of help and support, and if they are promising you that they have done nothing wrong, even though people may not think it’s the right thing to do, I think it is.
“Ultimately, nobody came out of the process a winner in the slightest.
“From an Ulster point of view, I was just glad to get it all to bed so we could concentrate on the tail end of the season and actually playing rugby.”
career.” When questions were asked about exactly why his contracts with Ireland and Ulster Rugby were terminated — and when Judge Smyth asked whether it was as a result of WhatsApp messages which formed part of the trial — it emerged that further clarity needed to be sought ahead of the next hearing.
The application was adjourned until October 26 when the Crown will respond to the defence application.
Before adjourning the application, Judge Smyth told the court “evidentially this is extremely complex”.