Thursday 19 October 2017

Doctor tells court woman left with injuries similar to someone ‘raped with a machete’

Sonya McLean

A MAN has been accused of leaving a woman with life threatening injuries which a court heard were more common in Sub-Saharan Africa when women have been raped with machetes.

The 68-year-old accused has pleaded not guilty at the Central Criminal Court to aggravated sexual assault and intentionally or recklessly causing the woman, his then partner, serious harm at his home in a Kilkenny town on dates between December 1 and December 8, 2011.

The gynaecologist surgeon who treated the now 35-year-old complainant told the jury that the woman had a 6-8cm tear at the top of her vagina close to her bladder which was gaping by about 2-3cm.

“It was such an unusual injury, one that I had rarely seen in my 20 years working,” Dr Ray O’Sullivan told Paddy McCarthy SC, prosecuting.

“It is something you would more likely see in Sub-Saharan Africa where woman have been raped with machetes,” the witness said.

He told the jury that his colleague had opened the woman’s abdomen during surgery in order to treat an infection in her stomach, while he examined her vagina to see if he might find an infection there.

“We could physically make contact with each other while examining the woman,” Dr O’ Sullivan said which he confirmed meant that he and his colleague could touch fingers through a hole in the woman’s abdominal cavity.

“This should not be able to happen, normally the uterus, bladder and bowel would be in the way,” Dr O’Sullivan. He regularly referred to the woman as “this poor lady” during testimony.

He added that he and his colleague wondered; “How is this woman alive? And that is not exaggerating.”

He said the injury in her vagina had a jagged edge and was pouring with puss. He said the wound had healed somewhat so he concluded that it had been inflicted a few days previously.

Dr O’Sullivan told Mr McCarthy that he deduced that the woman’s injuries were inflicted with “a very forcible introduction of a sharp object, sharp enough to push through tissue”.

He said the woman’s sodium levels were also very low and effectively this meant that her blood had been diluted.

“It is possible that water was introduced into her body,” Dr O’Sullivan said.

“We were trying to figure out what happened to the poor thing,” he continued.

He told Mr McCarthy that the injury could not have been caused by normal sexual behaviour and said it would be almost impossible to self inflict such an injury due to the depth of it.

Earlier, Mr McCarthy told the jury in opening the trial that the woman and the accused had been in a consensual sexual relationship at the time having met 18 months previously.

He said the woman had been living in the accused’s home at the time, regularly sleeping on his coach.

Mr McCarthy said the jury will hear evidence that the woman fell asleep after drinking half a litre of vodka and woke up later to find the accused with his fist up her vagina.

He said the woman would give evidence that she was in “excruciating pain” and the man turned his fist while it was still in her vagina.

Counsel said the woman pulled the man’s fist from her and found she was bleeding. He said she would give evidence that she didn’t consent to this contact with the accused.

He said an ambulance was called for the woman the following day but she refused to go to hospital. She was taken to hospital again when her condition worsened and she was in a semi-comatose state.

The trial continues before Mr Justice George Birmingham and jury of six women and six men.

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