Sunday 16 December 2018

Dara Florence: the crucial eyewitness at heart of arguments for both prosecution and defence

Dara Florence. Photo: Pacemaker
Dara Florence. Photo: Pacemaker
Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

Unusually, Dara Florence proved to be a crucial eyewitness witness at the heart of arguments for both the prosecution and the defence.

She was the only one in the house who had not been drinking that night.

The young Belfast woman opened the door during the events of June 28 2016 and observed the scene before her for “less than a minute”. She told the court that she had seen what she termed a “threesome” and saw no sign of distress on the part of the young woman. Coming up the stairs, she heard sounds of moaning which she later told police in her second statement she had not thought was sexual, though later she said that what she had heard was sex.

She was “100pc” positive she had witnessed Paddy Jackson having penetrative sex with the alleged victim, despite his denial this had taken place.

Brendan Kelly, QC for Mr Jackson, put it to Ms Florence that she had “assumed” this from “the movement” but she told him: “It was 100pc, I saw sex, from the movement.”

In his closing statement, Mr Kelly QC described her evidence was “extraordinary”.

"Dara Florence confirmed from what she could see (the woman) was not distressed," he said.

"When people commit crime they tend to hide, they tend to conceal what they did because they don't want to get caught,” he said.

"What did these two violent rapists do when she walked in? They invited her to join in. Dara Florence is absolutely central to this case."

For Toby Hedworth QC for the Prosecution, Ms Florence was also a crucial witness – and he focused on the fact that she had seen penetrative sex.

In his closing, he told the jury she was “certainly not expecting to walk in on non-consensual activity.”

He also told the jury she “had not seen how they had come to be involved in sexual activity in the first place.

During his cross examination, he asked her if she had seen any signs that the woman had positively consented that night and Ms Florence replied that she had not.

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