Best de­fends de­ci­sion to go to trial days be­fore match

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS - BY GER KEVILLE

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”.

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