External bruising on alleged victim "may be of little relevance evidentially," forensic expert tells Jackson/Olding trial
The latest from Belfast Crown Court, where Ireland internationals Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, along with two other men, are facing charges of various sexual crimes.
A leading forensic medical expert has voiced concerns over the finding of an internal injury in the young woman some 14 hours after she claimed she was raped by two international rugby players - Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding - in July 2016.
She told Belfast Crown Court if she had found such an injury still bleeding, it would have given her "cause for concern" and would have immediately referred the patient for treatment.
However, she also said while bleeding injuries "are not common in this type of case", she had in the past referred two such cases for treatment in hospital to stop the bleeding.
The concerns of the doctor, now semi-retired, came as she was giving evidence on behalf of the defence in the trial of Ireland and Ulster rugby players Paddy Jackson and Stuart Olding, who deny raping the then 19-year-old woman.
She told the court she had reviewed the notes and a video of the examination carried out by a doctor at the Rowan sexual assault referral centre at Antrim Area Hospital, in which he documented an internal tear which he said had been caused by blunt force trauma.
Questioned by defence QC Brendan Kelly, the doctor said while a video showed an examining instrument in place, it was not noted in the notes, and although blood could be seen, there was no indication as to "where that blood was coming from".
Asked about the purpose of such recordings, she replied it gave a visual confirmation of any findings, "and as we all know a picture tells the whole story more than any number of words."
However, the doctor claimed the video in this case "did not show me where the laceration was ... it was just a pool of blood", and went on to explain there was no note of whether or not the blood was the result of menstrual flow, which could be intermittent.
She added that she would have liked to have seen the blood from the alleged injury "swabbed away" so that she could view the injury and ascertain if it was still bleeding.
It was then that the doctor said, that having thought of the evidence of the prosecution doctor "overnight", any internal tear which was still bleeding "gives me cause for concern", adding later that the blood, "leaves a question in my mind, could it still be menstrual".
She went on to agree with Kelly that the alleged external bruising found on the vagina, "may be of little relevance evidentially", and that the site of its description did not appear to coincide with the video and that the purple discolouration seen on the video may have been caused by "the light source" used to film it.
However, the doctor said she had "worries" over the lack of any noted injury around this area, although in "most cases we examine, have no injuries, but when injuries are found these are the areas which most commonly are injured."
She went on to explain that the human male and female anatomy "are designed not to cause injury to one and other, otherwise procreation could not occur."
The doctor went on to agree with Kelly that it was, "hard to believe there were injuries inside, and not injuries on the protective outside" in cases of excessively forceful or violent rape, although in cases of digital penetration there was a "risk" of injury occurring.
The cause of any injury was also "dependant on the size, the smaller the size, the less likely, given all factors being equal".
However, in the case of Jackson, who claims there was consensual digital penetration, it was consistent with causing an internal injury.
Later defence QC Arthur Harvey for Blane McIlroy, who along Rory Harrison is also on trial facing lesser charges, asked about the affects of alcohol on a person's behaviour. She agreed that even after stopping drinking the alcohol level in a person continues to rise.
The alleged victim in this case agreed that she had been drinking before going back to Mr Jackson's south Belfast home.
The doctor accepted "yes, most certainly", Harvey's contention that continued rising alcohol levels could lead, among other things, to feelings of well-being, coupled with ill-judgement, reducing inhibitation, and "makes us behave in ways we would not behave."
She further agreed "all that what happens on the way up, reverses on the way down", and could also result in fragmented memory loss and feelings of remorse in the aftermath which could lead to further problems.
However, in cross-examination by prosecution QC Toby Hedworth, the doctor accepted that while people in drink sometimes "do things that are ill-judged... what is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander."
The doctor also agreed that in the aftermath of a sex assault the initial disclosure from a victim was sometimes, "partial", to which the doctor added, "and peacemeal", and that also "further details come out later."
Reporting by Ashleigh McDonald for M&M News Services