‘Groping’ colonel, 57, who ‘humiliated’ junior female soldier by kissing her on the lips and grabbing her buttocks in front of room full of fellow officers is dismissed from Army ‘in disgrace’
A ‘groping’ colonel who ‘humiliated’ a junior female soldier by kissing her on the lips and grabbing her buttocks in front of a room full of fellow officers has been dismissed from the Army ‘in disgrace’.
Married Col Martin Toney, 57, who has 36 years service in the regulars and was about to take his pension, stood stunned as the sentence was handed down by a judge at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire.
The Sandhurst graduate had pleaded to be let off with probation after his story that nothing had happened between himself and his victim was rejected by a jury panel of Top Brass.
The colonel had been accused by the former Major of giving her an unwanted kiss and ‘thorough feel of my bottom’ during an all ranks do in a hotel ski chalet in Dombås, Norway in 2012.
Married Col Martin Toney (pictured), 57, who has 36 years service in the regulars and was about to take his pension, stood stunned as the sentence was handed down by a judge
The devastated woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, came forward after the Colonel was cleared of a previous sex allegation at a court martial earlier this year.
Ordering to sign on as a sex offender, Judge Edward Legard told him: ‘This type of behaviour is unacceptable today. It was unacceptable in 2012.
‘Women are routinely at the forefront of the modern armed forces.
‘If those armed forces are to maintain operational effectiveness they must be inclusive and all people, whatever sex, sexual orientation, or religion must be able to come to work, go on exercise, adventure training and attend social events in the sure knowledge they will not be assaulted sexually.
‘Your behaviour that night was inexcusable. It also tarnished the reputation of the officer corps and the uniform section more widely.
‘You wear those pips because your job and duty is to demonstrate the upmost standards of behaviour.
‘Officers are not expected to be paragons of virtue. But for someone of senior rank to behave in this reprehensible way in the presence of other ranks we find to be a disgrace.’
The judge said the woman had gone to say goodnight as ‘a common courtesy’ and his request for a kiss was ‘bizarre and wholly inappropriate’ given they hardly knew each other.
Instead of giving her the expected peck on the cheek, he turned his head to kiss her on the lips and then grabbed her buttocks.
‘That assault was prolonged. It was forceful. It humiliated her.’
The judge continued: ‘You took advantage of a female subordinate who had offered you a common courtesy.
He left the hearing at Catterick Garrison (above), North Yorkshire, with his wife dragging him through the court room doors by his hand
‘She felt embarrassed and concerned that she would be painted as the villain rather than the victim if she reported it at the time.
‘The offence still continues to distress her.’
As well as being fired, the Colonel was also ordered to do 120 hours of unpaid work over 18 months.
He was told to observe the notification requirements of a sex offender.
The Colonel remained standing rigidly to attention as he was sentenced by the judge and then formally dismissed by the Army jury board.
He left the hearing at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire, with his wife dragging him through the court room doors by his hand.
Defending barrister David Richards said earlier in mitigation that the colonel’s wife had been present throughout the court martial to support him.
They live in Central London where he volunteers for the homeless.
He had championed diversity and equality, particularly in skiing and other sports, throughout his 38 years of previously ‘unblemished conduct’ in the regular Army and Reserves.
He added: ‘He is towards the end of his service. He loves the Army. It has been his life – work and play – and he has been committed to it throughout.
‘To end it on dismissal would be a terrible end to add to the loss of his good name and perpetual shame he will feel as a result of what he has done.’
The woman claimed the assault happened during the final evening of the Army Medical Service’s Nordic Ski Championships in Norway in December 2012. Pictured, a file photo of ski equipment
But he would forever be known as ‘the Groping Colonel’ by anyone who looked him up on the internet.
Toney showed no emotion on Tuesday when he was found guilty of the assault during the final evening of the Army Medical Service’s Nordic Ski Championships in Norway in December 2012.
The female victim had accused her former boss of molesting her in a function room at the hotel in the ski report of Dombas when Col Toney was a lieutenant colonel.
Challenged about her memories of what happened with Col Toney, she said: ‘I will always remember the feel of his hand upon me.’
The incident happened during a drinks party after an all-ranks meal of Scandinavian delicacies to round off the ski training camp.
The former major said she was ‘completely sober’ during the festivities in a large ski chalet, which doubled as a function room, because Norwegian alcohol was very expensive and not many people were drinking because they were leaving early the next day.
After an hour or so, she said wanted ‘to politely leave to go and pack’ and Col Toney, sitting alone in a conference chair, was the most senior officer in the room, if not the only other officer.
She said: ‘So out of politeness I went to say goodbye to him. He said ‘Give me a kiss goodbye’. I felt completely flummoxed by that.
‘We did not have the type of relationship where I would give him a kiss goodbye. It was very much phrased as a command.
‘I thought it would be rude not to so I bent over to give him a cheek kiss goodbye. But he turned and met it and kissed his lips.
‘He then put his hand on my bottom and rubbed it all over with a fair amount of force. It was not a fleeting touch. This was a thorough feel of my bottom.’
She was wearing a knitted cotton Nordic style dress which was warm but ‘not that thick’.
Col Toney was a lieutenant colonel when at the ski resort of Dombås, Norway, pictured (file photo)
She continued: ‘It felt like it went on for a long time. It was only 10 to 15 seconds. But it felt like at least a minute. He thoroughly groped my bottom.’
She felt his hand ‘moving in a fairly leisurely fashion’.
‘I was just frozen during this,’ she added.
‘I felt so humiliated. I just wanted to get out of the room as quickly as possible.
‘I felt humiliated, degraded, and confused. I would normally tell someone to f*** off. But I can’t tell him to f*** off because he is a senior officer.
‘He had decades of military experience. I am not some naive 18-year-old. It is not the first time I have had inappropriate sexual contact, but it was the only time with a senior officer.’
She had experienced ‘mess high jinks’, but this was different, partly because it happened in a room full of more junior soldiers which made it ‘a lot worse’.
She added: ‘My rank meant nothing because it was fine to treat me as an object.’
She was also in a relationship at the time and did not want anyone to think she was cheating on her partner.
She told a female colleague what happened the same night but Col Toney was only interviewed by police under caution in April this year. He denied to Army cops that anything untoward had happened at all.
Mr Richards told the woman during cross-examination: ‘You knew a lieutenant colonel could not order you to give him a kiss.’
She replied: ‘It felt like an order. He thought he had a right to touch me because he was more senior than me. That is what happened.’
Giving evidence on Monday, Col Toney denied the alleged incident at the Trolltun Hotel ever happened.
He was a senior officer at the adventure training camp and the director of the exercise where the woman was one 64 troops involved in two weeks of cross country skiing.
He said he had attended the event for 12 years and could not recall any of the final dinners ending on a ‘sour’ note, which he remembered as always ‘jolly occasions’.
He said: ‘It did not happen. It is not something I would do. I do not know why she is saying it. I did not do it.’
He declined to comment after the hearing.