A taxi driver who took a woman allegedly raped by two Irish rugby players home has told a court she was crying and sobbing throughout the journey.

Stephen Fisher was giving evidence in the high-profile trial of Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, who deny raping the woman at a house in south Belfast in June 2016.

Mr Fisher told Belfast Crown Court: “The young woman definitely seemed very upset.

“She was crying/sobbing throughout the journey. She did not really talk very much at all, bar telling me where she needed to go.”

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The court heard that the complainant had been in the taxi with Rory Harrison, who denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

When asked by a prosecutor about Harrison’s actions, Mr Fisher told the jury: “The gentleman in question was attempting to comfort the lady.

“I believe I remember her head was placed on his chest. He was trying to comfort her.”

He was further quizzed about a phone conversation involving Harrison in the car.

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Mr Fisher said: “To me, from what I heard, I would explain it as talking as sort of in code.”

He said he heard “small snippets”.

“I recall him saying to the person on the phone ‘She is with me now. She is not good. I’ll call you in the morning’,” added Mr Fisher.

The taxi driver was questioned by a barrister for Jackson about staining he had noticed on the back of the complainant’s trousers.

When he checked his seats, there was no sign of any stains or marks and he felt the stain had been dried in, the court heard.

Meanwhile the court was told that, when police made contact with the taxi driver, he knew what they wanted.

“It dawned on me – I went ‘Oh yes’, and the whole episode came together,” he said.

Under cross-examination by Gavin Duffy QC, representing Harrison, the taxi driver confirmed he had not reported any concerns to police.

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Twenty-six-year-old Paddy Jackson, from Oakleigh Park in Belfast,and his Ireland and Ulster and team-mate Stuart Olding, 24, from Ardenlee Street in the city, deny raping the same woman on June 28 2016.

Jackson denies a further charge of sexual assault.

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Blane McIlroy, 26, from Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, denies exposure.

Rory Harrison, 25, from Manse Road, Belfast, denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The case continues.

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