Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Royal Navy warrant officer denies sex assaults at HMS Excellent

HMS Excellent Image copyright Martyn Pattison
Image caption The assaults are alleged to have taken place at a bar in HMS Excellent

A Royal Navy warrant officer groped a junior colleague, telling her he could help her gain promotion if she "helped him out", a court martial has heard.

Warrant Officer Stephen Vernon, 52, is accused of three charges of sexual assault at the court martial at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The prosecution alleges the assaults took place during a swing band night in a bar at the HMS Excellent training complex in Portsmouth in January 2016.

WO1 Vernon denies the charges.

'Sexual touching'

Lt Col Victoria Phillips, prosecuting, told the court martial the non-commissioned officer had bought a ticket for the complainant for the event in Moby Dick's Bar on the base and offered her the use of his cabin.

She said his behaviour became "increasingly inappropriate" during the evening and he engaged in "sexual touching".

It was alleged WO1 Vernon told the complainant, with regards her career: "I can help you there if you help me out. Why do you think I offered to you my cabin for the night?"

Her behaviour became "rather introverted" following the alleged assaults, Lt Col Phillips told the court martial.

"In the course of the following days, WO1 Vernon made a number of attempts to contact her, apparently concerned for her well-being.

"This was a cynical attempt on his part to ensure there would be no consequences from his misconduct that night and she would make no waves for him by reporting the matters," she said.

The trial continues.