Sunday 22 July 2018

Doctor who examined alleged rugby rape victim could not say if sex was consensual

Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding Niall Carson/PA Wire
Ireland and Ulster rugby player Stuart Olding Niall Carson/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

A doctor who examined a woman allegedly raped by two Ireland and Ulster rugby players could not determine whether the sexual contact had been consensual, despite intimate injuries.

Belfast Crown Court was told the complainant had a one centimetre bleeding laceration on the wall of her vagina, as well as minor bruising to her right arm and right leg.

When questioned about possible causes of the injuries, Dr Philip Lavery, a forensic medical officer, said: "There's no way of giving entire credence as to whether this was consensual or not.

"No, it does not help in deciding the consensuality of intercourse."

Dr Lavery examined the woman after she referred herself to the Rowan rape crisis centre in Antrim the day after the alleged attack in June 2016.

He found a tear approximately two or three centimetres inside the vagina.

Prosecutor Toby Hedworth QC asked: "How much of the skin was affected by that ... the tissue that was lacerated or torn?"

Dr Lavery said: "The definition of a laceration is a full thickness tear."

It could have been caused by "any blunt force trauma" applied to the wall of the vagina, he said.

Dr Lavery said: "It could include a penis, it could include fingers or it could include any object."

When asked if he could "choose" between any of the potential causes, the doctor replied: "No, Your Honour."

The high profile trial, being heard by Judge Patricia Smyth, has entered its fourth week.

The 12-person jury also heard how swabs and blood samples were taken by medics at the Rowan centre, and clothing the complainant had worn on the night in question was also retained.

The woman had been tearful but co-operative during the hour-long examination and showed no signs of intoxication, the court heard.

Dr Lavery explained that measures were taken to ascertain whether the bleeding was from the laceration or as a result of her monthly menstrual cycle.

"I have noted no menstrual bleeding coming from the cervix," he said.

A recording of the intimate examination was taken at the time, the court heard.

Meanwhile, the doctor was asked, during cross examination by Brendan Kelly QC, representing Paddy Jackson, who denies rape and sexual assault, if there had been any mention of digital penetration.

"No, there's no mention of that," he answered.

The barrister continued: "There is no mention by the complainant that she was forced to perform oral sex upon one of her attackers?"

"That's correct," added Dr Lavery.

Outlining that a forensic science form would be relied upon for any criminal proceedings, the barrister suggested that had he been told about the alleged oral rape, the doctor would have ordered a mouth swab.

"Yes, that would be standard practice," Dr Lavery said.

The court also heard how Jackson's defence intended to call its own medical expert to argue that a sharp penetrating object poses a greater risk of injury than a smoother one.

Mr Kelly said: "The glans of the penis are designed in such away as to navigate the walls of the vagina without causing damage.

"As far as a finger is concerned, they bear fingernails which are hard edged."

Later, during questioning by a barrister for Stuart Olding who also denies rape, Dr Lavery read aloud notes he had recorded about the complainant's account of what happened.

In them she described being "pushed on to the bed" and raped by a man who then turned her over and "raped her from the front".

The alleged assailant caused pain because he was "rough", the doctor noted.

According to the document, a second man entered the room and vaginally raped her while she was on her back.

No condom was used and she was unsure if ejaculation had taken place, he said.

A third man then came into the room and took his trousers off, but the doctor had recorded the woman was able to escape when the second suspect "got off her".

Four men on trial in connection with the alleged attack deny all the charges against them.

The case continues.

Press Association

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