Belfast rape trial: Olding’s semen found on alleged victim’s clothes

Blood and other bodily fluids the focus on day 18 as forensics experts take the witness stand

Ulster and Ireland rugby player Stuart Olding: defence witness Dr Janet Hall raised concerns about medical evidence given to the court on Tuesday. Photograph: Pacemaker

Ulster and Ireland rugby player Stuart Olding: defence witness Dr Janet Hall raised concerns about medical evidence given to the court on Tuesday. Photograph: Pacemaker

 

Blood, its presence and provenance, was the subject of intense scrutiny on day 18 of the rape trial of Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding in Belfast.

The two sportsmen sat together in the dock as Dr Janet Hall, a witness for the defence, raised concerns about medical evidence given to the court on Tuesday.

Dr Hall had reviewed a video recording of an examination of the complainant, carried out by Dr Phillip Lavery on the day of the alleged rape. He detected a bleeding laceration on the wall of the woman’s vagina, which he said was caused by blunt force trauma.

“I didn’t see the injury,” said Dr Hall. “I saw a pool of blood and I didn’t see where that blood was coming from.”

She said the injury in question “needed to be captured evidentially and it wasn’t”.

Dr Hall, who did not personally examine the complainant, said that bleeding injuries were “not common in these cases”. She had previously referred two other cases to hospital for the treatment of continued bleeding.

She said she was left with the question of whether the blood could be menstrual in origin.

In the witness box, the semi-retired forensic expert demonstrated the shape of a woman’s vagina with her own cupped hand, pointing out the external structures that were most commonly injured by excessive force.

In the afternoon, the discussion again turned to blood, and other bodily substances. A scientific officer with Forensic Science Northern Ireland described how she had used swabs taken from Mr Jackson, Mr Olding and Blane McIlroy, who is also on trial accused of exposing himself to the complainant, in order to create a DNA profile of them. All of the defendants deny all of the charges.

The officer then examined the alleged victim’s clothes, which included underwear; a pair of white jeans – “grubby and stained” – with blood marks visible on the outside; and a black sequin-covered sleeveless top. She said Mr Olding’s semen was detected on all three items of clothing.

Thong

The most intense focus of the court’s attention was on the alleged victim’s underwear – a thong – and the pattern of blood stains on it, and how those marks were caused.

“This type of garment is notorious, is it not, for moving?” Brendan Kelly QC, Mr Jackson’s barrister, asked the forensics officer.

To a ripple of uneasy laughter in the public gallery, she replied that she would assume so, but it was not her area of expertise.

Such was the complexity of the blood marks on the garment, it was determined that the exhibit itself should be brought back before the court, rather than relying on diagrams and photographs.

A lengthy break occurred, but then it emerged that the garment was actually being stored at a laboratory some distance away, and could not easily be retrieved.