Royal Navy engineer, 31, ‘sexually assaulted female colleague by groping her bottom at a party on board HMS Defender’, court martial hears
A Royal Navy engineer ‘sexually assaulted a female colleague by groping her bottom at a party on board HMS Defender’, a court martial has heard.
Leading Engineering Technician Danny Holmes, 31, ‘couldn’t keep his hands to himself’ during a celebratory evening on the Type 45 warship during a deployment to the Gulf, the court was told.
The sailor is alleged to have twice ‘stroked’ the woman’s buttocks before laughing when she confronted him.
LET Holmes, who was serving as a weapons engineer on the warship, denies two counts of sexual assault by touching.
He claims the woman fabricated the allegations after becoming angry over an argument they had about a bottle of wine.
Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard HMS Defender’s crew were celebrating and enjoying a meal when the female sailor entered a mess below deck, where she alleges she was touched for the first time.
LET Danny Holmes pictured outside Bulford Military Court, where he stands charged with two counts of sexual assault by touching
She told the court: ‘We had dinner and then moved to the mess at about 7pm. I came through a doorway into the mess… it was quite busy – there was music playing and everyone was chatting.
‘LET Holmes was stood to the right as I walked through the doorway. We had a generic conversation that lasted a minute, if that. I continued [into the mess] and felt a hand on my right buttock.
‘It wasn’t a grab, but it was not like someone was brushing past, either. It was an intentional touch… I felt his fingertips at the bottom of my right bum cheek.
‘I immediately confronted him – he was the only person that was close to me – and said, “You just touched me on the bum, what are you doing?”‘
‘I remember him laughing as if it was ridiculous that I would confront him with something like that. I told him it was inappropriate, and felt that was the end of it.’
However, the court heard LET Holmes again approached the woman later the same evening.
She told the court: ‘Round about two hours later I was stood at the bar. LET Holmes had approached me not long before, and said something along the lines of, “we friends? We good?”‘
‘I was past it, so I said, “Yes. Fine, whatever.” He seemed drunk.
‘There were about four people around the bar having a chat. LET Holmes was walking around behind me and did the same as he did before.
LET Holmes is alleged to have twice groped a female colleague during a celebratory party on board HMS Defender
The Royal Navy’s Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender pictured arriving at the Black Sea port of Odessa, Ukraine, on June 18 earlier this year
‘It was not the back of his hand, it was definitely an open palm. [This one] was a brush, because he was moving and I was standing still. Again, there was no one else who could have done it.
‘I said, “You touched me again”, and he reacted similarly… he denied it and laughed at me.’
‘When I reported it I was absolutely hysterical. I was very upset – it was a horrible situation to be in.’
It was said that the pair had hardly met before the incidents.
William Peters, prosecuting, told the court that LET Holmes twice ‘deliberately’ stroked the female sailor’s buttocks.
He added: ‘[LET Holmes] could not keep his hands to himself and took the liberty of touching [the victim] on two occasions.’
The court martial heard the alleged victim was upset, crying and ‘in hysterics’ as she complained of being groped during the party.
She said she had consumed six cans of cider over the course of the evening, with witnesses saying she was ‘slurring her words’ and ‘swaying’.
Giving evidence at the trial, ET Erin Eitkin recalled hearing the woman calling LET Holmes a ‘creep’.
She said: ‘All of a sudden she just walked away [from the bar] saying, “LET Holmes is a creep”.
‘She asked to have a word with me… she said he had touched her. She was quite upset but she was very drunk as well… she was in hysterics.
‘She was slurring her words, her eyes were glazed over, she smelled strongly of alcohol and was swaying about when she was speaking to me.
‘At one stage she was not making any sense and I couldn’t make out what she was saying. She never actually said what had or had not happened.’
Leading Seaman Dean Barnes also gave evidence at the trial.
He said the woman was ‘seemingly distressed’ and asked LET Holmes ‘what gives you the right to touch me?’.
LS Barnes added: ‘She seemed red in the face and, shortly afterwards, started crying.
‘She seemed very intoxicated… slurred speech, all over the place in terms of movement, and with bloodshot eyes.’
The trial continues.