Sailor locked up for nine months after sexual assault on sleeping colleague

HMS Collingwood , Fareham
HMS Collingwood , Fareham

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A SAILOR has been detained for nine months after she sexually assaulted a sleeping colleague at a navy base.

Leading Seaman Claire Cocker, 28, had been allowed into another woman’s bed for a cuddle at HMS Collingwood in Fareham on March 14 this year.

The court martial at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth heard the female victim had woken and told Cocker to stop after she touched the victims’s breast and assaulted her.

But Cocker, a lesbian, later wrapped her legs around the woman, who had fallen asleep, and assaulted her again.

The victim cannot be identified for legal reasons.

Sentencing, Judge Advocate Robert Hill said: ‘The complainant was agreeable to you staying for a cuddle.

‘She let you get into bed with her.

‘The word cuddle was not, on your own side or other, a euphemism.

‘In your own words you saw it as an opportunity.

‘She turned over in bed and started to try to get to sleep. You started to caress her.’

He added Cocker then assaulted her victim.

‘She had tried to stop this through body language,’ he added.

‘Eventually she pushed you away and said it “was not going to happen.”

‘What happened next was more serious in the court’s view.

‘When she had gone to sleep you started to do exactly the same thing again and went further.

‘Not only did she not consent but you didn’t have any reasonable belief [she consented].’

He added she knew she was in territory that was firmly forbidden.

He said that Cocker had apologised on both occasions but stayed the night with the victim, who is also a lesbian.

Cocker will serve her detention at the Military Corrective Training Centre in Colchester.

She was given one month detention for the first assault and eight months for the second.

Reading the victim’s impact statement in the court martial, prosecutor Commander Caroline Kenyon said: ‘I felt shocked and eager to get away from HMS Collingwood and home to my family.

‘I was especially embarrassed to tell my family.’

Cdr Kenyon added the victim’s statement said the court martial process was harrowing and the assault had left her with problems.

‘Seeing the defendant numerous times in and out of court was stressful,’ the victim’s statement continued.

‘I began suffering nightmares and I found it increasingly difficult to sleep through the night.

‘I have struggled to maintain relationships since the assault and find it hard to trust people intimately.’

The statement added the victim fears Cocker could appeal the conviction.

It comes after Cocker, who joined the navy nearly six years ago, had denied two charges of sexual assault contrary to the Sexual Offences Act but was found guilty by a military panel at a court martial in Portsmouth after a trial last month.

She has no previous similar convictions but the court heard she had previously committed a driving offence.

Half a dozen character references for Cocker had been submitted to the court martial.

Christopher Hewertson, defending, said: ‘She fell down.’

He added she had a hitherto exemplary character.

Cocker had earned a good conduct badge in 2012 after serving four years in the navy.