The former Ireland and Ulster rugby player was cleared of rape and sexual assault earlier this year

A decision on whether Paddy Jackson should be allowed to recover some or all of his legal costs following his rape trial will be made at a later date.

The former Ireland and Ulster rugby player applied for his “substantial bill” to be paid after a jury found him not guilty of all charges two months ago.

Paddy Jackson wasn't in court for today’s application. His parents, who helped finance his defence, sat at the back of the public gallery.

Jackson spent 42 days in the dock at Belfast Crown Court before he was acquitted of raping and sexually assaulting a woman at his home in 2016.

The IRFU and Ulster revoked his contract last month and his barrister told the court today he is “without employment and without offer of employment”

Brendan Kelly criticised the handling of the police investigation and the decision to prosecute as well as the 13-months it took to make it – a delay he described as “inexcusable and inexplicable” and one which has never been explained.

In Northern Ireland, a person cleared of a crime can ask the court to make an order for recovery of all or some of his or her legal costs.

Toby Hedworth objected on behalf of the Public Prosecution Service and said it could affect the pursuit of future cases involving high-profile people who have the resources to pay for their own defence – an argument Mr. Kelly described as “without merit”.

Judge Patricia Smyth will deliver judgement at a later date.