Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Royal Navy warrant officer convicted of sex assault at Portsmouth base

HMS Excellent Image copyright Martyn Pattison
Image caption The assault took place at a bar in HMS Excellent

A Royal Navy non-commissioned officer has been convicted of groping a junior colleague during a night out.

WO Stephen Vernon, 52, was convicted of one charge of sexual assault following a court martial at Portsmouth Naval Base.

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

He was acquitted of two other charges of sexual assault.

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

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

Introverted behaviour

It was alleged WO 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.

She said: "In the course of the following days, WO 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."

He will be sentenced at a later date.

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