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Justice denied for assault victim

Inspector Darren Somerville, from Gladstone Police, said that when a person makes a complaint of sexual assault, police took a statement and then organised a medical examination at a hospital or surgery with a GMO.
Inspector Darren Somerville, from Gladstone Police, said that when a person makes a complaint of sexual assault, police took a statement and then organised a medical examination at a hospital or surgery with a GMO. Brenda Strong

A DISABLED woman who was raped will never get justice because a government doctor was not available to examine her on the evening of the attack.

The woman, who has a neurological condition and struggles to walk, was raped in South Gladstone on January 14.

Yesterday, it was revealed the middle-aged mother went to the Gladstone Base Hospital on the evening of the attack, expecting to be examined by a government medical officer (GMO).

However, the doctor was not available to collect vital evidence that would be used by police to track down and convict the rapist.

Police and the hospital would not comment on the case yesterday.

The victim's carer said the woman waited at the hospital for three hours.

She was spoken to by police at 5.45pm, arrived at the hospital at 7.30pm and left at 10.30pm.

"I was told only the GMO could examine her," the carer said. "My friend (the victim) was distressed.

"In the end the doctor was unable to come and we were dismissed, end of story.

"We can never know whether it (the rape) took place. I ended up bringing her back to my home.

"It's totally unacceptable - she was denied the possibility of justice."

The woman said she didn't fault the hospital or police.

"The hospital couldn't do anymore than they did. They weren't authorised to do anymore than they did," she said.

"The police probably did everything they could, but where was the doctor?"

She said there needed to be more government medical officers on and that doctors and nurses should be authorised to examine rape victims at hospitals.

Inspector Darren Somerville, from Gladstone Police, said that when a person makes a complaint of sexual assault, police took a statement and then organised a medical examination at a hospital or surgery with a GMO.

He said a government medical officer and police needed to be present to ensure that there were no gaps in taking evidence for use in court.

Inspector Somerville said while GMOs were specially trained to do examinations, other doctors could conduct them.

"We have found that they can be reluctant to do them at times," he said.

He said he couldn't comment on the specifics of the case, but said police took every step possible to make sure people who make sexual assault claims were examined.

Gladstone Region Sexual Assault Service counsellor Robyn Liddell said sexual assault victims were often vulnerable.

The Observer has chosen not to identify the victim or her carer.

Topics:  justice, rape, victim



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