Sunday 22 July 2018

Clothes worn by defendant on night of alleged rape not found

Doctor tells trial woman's internal injuries couldn't prove issue of consent

Stuart Olding arriving at Laganside Magistrates Court in Belfast. Photo: Pacemaker
Stuart Olding arriving at Laganside Magistrates Court in Belfast. Photo: Pacemaker

Claire O'Boyle

The rape trial of two Ireland international rugby players has heard that police never recovered the clothes worn by one of the defendants on the night of the alleged attack.

Belfast Crown Court heard that police searched the house of Ulster and Ireland player Stuart Olding as he was being questioned at Musgrave Police Station.

Mr Olding (24) denies one allegation of rape. His team-mate Paddy Jackson (26) denies rape and a single count of sexual assault.

Mr Olding's barrister, Frank O'Donoghue, cross-examined a detective from the PSNI's Rape Crisis Unit who led Mr Olding's first interview on June 30, 2016.

The officer confirmed Mr Olding co-operated fully and gave an account of his actions to police.

"He said oral sex had lasted for about five minutes," said Mr O'Donoghue. "He did say she (the complainant) asked them, Mr Jackson and Mr Olding, to go and get condoms?"

Paddy Jackson is facing rape and sexual assault charges. Photo: PA
Paddy Jackson is facing rape and sexual assault charges. Photo: PA

The officer said: "I recall that being mentioned."

Mr O'Donoghue also told the court how police had searched Mr Olding's house as he was being questioned at Musgrave Police Station.

But while officers seized clothes from his south Belfast home, they failed to remove the clothes he was wearing on the night of the alleged attack.

"Did the police get Mr Olding's clothes?" he asked the detective.

Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is on trial accused of one count of exposure. Photo: PA
Blane McIlroy arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is on trial accused of one count of exposure. Photo: PA

"I don't know. I can't say if they ever did," the officer replied. Nor could he say if other items of clothing were taken by police officers.

As the trial at Belfast Crown Court entered its fourth week, Mr O'Donoghue told the jury the complainant had given two contrasting accounts of the alleged attack.

First, said Mr O'Donoghue, she said she wasn't "entirely sure" how the sex act had begun, but that there had been "no conversation" and she did not "have a choice".

The barrister said that later in the interview the complainant, who was aged 19 at the time of the incident, said: "I'm really sure my head was forced down."

Rory Harrison arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is on trial accused of perverting the course of justice. Photo: PA
Rory Harrison arrives at Belfast Crown Court where he is on trial accused of perverting the course of justice. Photo: PA

"That's two contrasting answers," said Mr O'Donoghue.

"One, not sure, the second, 'I'm really sure it was forced'. And she's unsure of ejaculation. That's the picture on June 30, and the interview finished at 11.49am."

A doctor who examined the complainant told the court her internal injuries could not determine whether sex was consensual.

The court heard how the doctor, who examined the woman less than 24 hours after the alleged attack, discovered a "bleeding laceration" on the vaginal wall, internal bruising, as well as minor bruising on her arm and legs.

When asked whether the injuries helped in establishing whether this was consensual, Dr Philip Lavery told the court: "There's no way of giving entire credence to whether this was consensual or not - it does not help on deciding consensuality of intercourse."

He identified a "one centimetre bleeding laceration" on the wall of the woman's vagina.

When questioned about what might cause a tear of this sort, the doctor said: "Any blunt-force trauma to the wall of the vagina."

He added: "It could include a penis, it could include fingers, it could include any object."

Prosecution barrister Toby Hedworth said: "Is there anything about this tear that could allow you to choose between any of those as a cause?"

The doctor answered: "No."

He told the jury how he had witnessed "fresh blood" from the injury using a technique of applying and removing pressure with a swab.

He was also asked about bruising on the woman's right arm and legs and told the court that during the exam, the woman said she had no recollection of how she got the bruises.

Two other defendants are also on trial.

Blane McIlroy (26) denies exposure and Rory Harrison (25) denies perverting the course of justice and withholding information.

The trial continues.

Irish Independent

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News