Irish - Army officer found guilty of sexually assaulting female soldier after barbecue on base - 14 Oct 22

Army officer found guilty of sexually assaulting female soldier after barbecue on base

The officer was convicted of moving his hands up and down the back of a soldier while saying ‘Come on, come on’

A senior Army officer has been found guilty by a military court of sexually assaulting a female soldier after a social function at a military barracks two years ago but cleared of three other counts of the same offence.

A jury at a general court martial convicted the accused of moving his open palms up and down the back of the soldier while saying: “Come on, come on” shortly before midnight on June 25th, 2020 in an officers’ mess.

The Army officer had been brought to the mess after being found asleep in a drunken state outside a gymnasium, while dressed in uniform, following a barbecue on the base which occurred during Covid-19.

The location of the military barracks cannot be identified as a result of an order by the military judge, Colonel Michael Campion.

The officer was also found guilty of a separate charge of assaulting the same soldier by moving towards her in a manner that led her to believe she was going to be assaulted.

However, he was cleared of another charge of sexually assaulting the same person by placing both his arms around her torso in an inappropriate manner.

The officer, whose name cannot be published on the direction of the judge, was also found not guilty of two counts of sexually assaulting and one count of assaulting another female soldier a short time earlier outside a building in the barracks.

They related to charges that he had placed one hand around the soldier’s back and used his other hand to pull her head towards him leading her to believe he was attempting to kiss her and separately pulling her head towards his groin.

The officer originally faced a total of 17 charges before the court martial.

At the outset of the six-week trial at the Military Justice Centre at McKee Barracks in Dublin, he pleaded guilty to five charges including two counts of assault in relation to events on the night of June 25th, 2020.

The officer admitted forcibly grabbing the left wrist of one female soldier and assaulting the other female soldier by placing his arms around her torso.

He also pleaded guilty to two counts of drunkenness contrary to Section 142 of the Defence Act 1954 for being asleep in a chair and unable to speak coherently and one count of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline contrary to Section 168 of the Defence Act 1954.

Separately, the judge directed the jury – known as a military board – to acquit the accused of three other charges including one of sexual assault where he allegedly had moved towards one of the female soldiers in a manner which caused her to believe that she was going to be sexually assaulted.

The accused was also acquitted of a charge of assaulting the other female soldier by allegedly placing his hand on her shoulder.

Most of the evidence in the case cannot be reported due to reporting restrictions imposed by Col Campion.

The military board consisted of five men and two women, all of whom were senior ranking officers composed of army, naval and Air Corps personnel.

Under court martial rules, convictions required at least a 5-2 verdict of the military board.

The accused was ordered to appear before the same court martial for a pre-sentence hearing on December 8th.