Belfast trial: Doctor criticises medical examination of alleged rape victim

Witness says video of examination left out critical information

Stuart Olding (left) and Paddy Jackson are charged with rape. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

Stuart Olding (left) and Paddy Jackson are charged with rape. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

 

A doctor has criticised the medical examination of a woman who was allegedly raped by Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding.

The men’s trial at Laganside Crown Court heard yesterday from Belfast medical examiner, Dr Philip Lavery, who examined the then 19-year-old student 14 hours after she was allegedly raped by the men.

He said he observed a laceration to the woman’s vaginal wall, which was still bleeding, as well as a bruise to her labia minora. He said the injuries were caused by blunt force trauma.

This morning, Mr Jackson’s barrister called Dr Janet Hall as an expert witness for the defence. Dr Hall is a highly experienced, semi-retired medical examiner who works with both prosecution and defence teams, the trial heard.

She told Brendan Kelly QC, she reviewed Dr Lavery’s notes and viewed a DVD of the vaginal examination he carried out at the Rowan Sexual Assault Referral Centre.

She said she could see a small pool of blood on the DVD but “critically” couldn’t see where it was coming from. She said the DVD did not show the examination of the vaginal wall where Dr Lavery stated he found the laceration.

The DVD also did not show the examination of the cervix which is where menstrual blood comes from. As a result, she said, it was not possible to say if the blood was a result of menstruation. The doctor’s notes made no mention of whether menstrual flow was observed or not she said.

Dr Hall said she has recorded similar DVDs “many, many times” during her work.

Explaining the reason for DVD recordings, she said: “It’s visual confirmation. As we all know a picture tells the whole story, more than any number of words can.

“The reason for taking the DVD is so other people can look at it and check it and make sure it’s accurate.”

She said she would have liked to have observed the laceration and to have seen the source of the blood. “The bleeding needed to be captured evidentially and it wasn’t.”

Dr Hall added that a wound which was still bleeding after 14 hours would have been a cause of concern for her. Bleeding injuries are not common in such cases she said, but she has experienced them and had sent the patient to hospital so the bleeding could be stopped.

Injuries to the vaginal wall also are not common in cases of vaginal rape she said, except in certain cases, such as when “excessive force” is used. She said she would expect to find other injuries to the outer structures if there was excessive force used.

“It is hard to believe one injury happened inside and no injuries happened on the protective structures outside.”

The injury, if it was there, would be more consistent with penetration by the fingers, she said. Dr Hall agreed with counsel that Mr Jackson has said he digitally penetrated the woman with her consent.

Referring to bruising noted by Dr Lavery on the labia, she said she couldn’t find any where he had stated it was present.

She observed discolouration elsewhere on the labia but not where Dr Lavery stated it was.

Mr Jackson (26), of Oakleigh Park, Belfast has pleaded not guilty to rape and sexual assault in the early hours of June 28th, 2016 at a party in his house. Mr Olding (24), of Ardenlee Street, Belfast, denies one count of rape on the same occasion. Both men contend the activity was consensual.

Blane McIlroy (26), of Royal Lodge Road, Ballydollaghan, Belfast, has pleaded not guilty to one count of exposure while Rory Harrison (25), from Manse Road, Belfast, pleaded not guilty to perverting the course of justice and withholding information relating to the incident.

Counsel for Blane McIlroy, Arthur Harvey SC, asked Dr Hall about the affects of alcohol. The doctor agreed after consuming alcohol, people can do things “without fully appreciating the consequences or risks.”

Drink can lead to people making ill-judged decisions which give them pleasure, Dr Hall said. She further agreed it can reduce inhibition and create arousal as well as leading to feelings of regret and remorse.

The trial continues today before Judge Patricia Smyth and a jury of nine men and three women.