Ulster and Irish rugby player Stuart Olding has been found not guilty of rape by a Belfast jury this afternoon.
Having denied the charges, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in Olding's favour after deliberating for three hours and forty minutes.
Following the verdict, Olding's solicitor Paul Dougan read a statement dictated by his client.
VIDEO: Stuart Olding’s solicitor Paul Dougan reads a statement prepared by his client. Mr. Olding was cleared of forcing the woman to perform oral sex on him. pic.twitter.com/GcTDMfrGdn
— Frank Greaney (@FrankGreaney) March 28, 2018
Echoing many of the sentiments shared in an earlier statement by his teammate and similarly cleared Paddy Jackson, Olding suggested that he was "sorry for the hurt that was caused to the complainant. It was was never my intention to hurt anyone on that night:"
I want to start by thanking the judge and jury for their time and patience throughout this long trial.
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 was never my intention to hurt anyone on that night.
I don't agree with her perception of events, and I maintain that everything that happened that evening was consensual.
I have consistently told the truth to the police and the court when asked to account for my conduct.
The Stuart Olding who has been portrayed in 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.
Proceeding to express his gratitude to his legal team, among others, Olding and the legal team took their leave from the front of the court immediately after.
All four defendants in the trial were found not guilty. Stuart Olding (25) from Ardenlee Street has been found not guilty of rape; McIlroy (26) from Royal Lodge Road has been found not guilty of exposure; Rory Harrison (25) from Manse Road has been found not guilty of withholding information and perverting the course of justice.
The jury reached a unanimous decision having spent 3 hours and 40 minutes deliberating.
Video credit to Frank Greaney