THE best friend of the woman who has accused two Ireland rugby players of rape has told a court “she would not lie to me”.

The woman, who cannot be named to protect the identity of the complainant, was the first person to be told of the alleged attack two years ago.

Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding deny raping the alleged victim at Jackson’s south Belfast home on June 28, 2016.

Belfast Crown Court was told that the woman texted her friend from the house at 3.04am that morning.

The text read: “Am back at Paddy Jackson’s.”

The friend replied: “Ha Ha. How and why?”

The complainant didn’t respond for over six hours, when at 9.51am she told the friend she had been raped.

Giving evidence in front of the jury, the friend said she believed the woman when she said she had been attacked by the men.

“I assumed she was telling the truth. She would not lie to me,” she said.

The court was told that the pair had been friends since they were 12.

They had been together on the night of the alleged attack at Ollie’s Nightclub in Belfast city centre.

CCTV footage was shown from the club on the night in question showing that the two friends did not leave together.

While the friend went to a nearby McDonald’s restaurant for food, the complainant – who was 19 at the time – returned with Paddy Jackson to his house with a group of people she did not know.

Cross-examining the friend, defence barrister Brendan Kelly QC asked whether the two women had ever had a conversation about telling the truth.

He put it to her that she and the complainant had “discussed the issue of rape” 12 days prior to their night at Ollies Nightclub.

“Do you recall her saying to her ‘If I ever get raped I am not going to the police?”, asked Kelly.

The woman replied: “Yeah.”

Mr Kelly added: “And you said you would ‘deal with the man’?”

Mr Kelly explained that the alleged victim had texted to say that “nine of ten rapes go unreported.”

The friend responded: “I have heard of people being raped. It’s scary.”

“And you say (in the text) that ‘just got to find a way to blackmail or stab them’,” Kelly added.

The woman said: “Yes. That was clearly a joke.”

Jackson, 26, and Olding, 24, are charged with raping the same woman on June 28, 2016 – while Jackson faces a further charge of sexual assault.

Their friends Blane McIlroy, 26, and Rory Harrison, 25, are charged with single counts of exposure and perverting the course of justice respectively.

All four defendants deny the allegations. The trial continues at Belfast Crown Court.

This content was originally published here.