A Royal Marine corporal who wore the uniform of a sergeant and medals he was not entitled to at a family wedding to ‘big it up and impress his family’ was fined £300 today .
Sergeant Robert Barnett, 33, of 40 Commando, who has been promoted since the offence, was found guilty of conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline because he wore a No1 dress uniform and a mess uniform, plus the honours, at the event on June 2 last year.
Barnett, based at HMS Raleigh in Plymouth, admitted he had worn the uniform and medals, but he denied conduct that was prejudicial to good order and service discipline because it was a private event.
Imposing the sentence, Judge Advocate Robert Hill said: ‘In the military community rank is hard earned, respect is hard earned and medals are hard earned. People find it offensive when people abuse it by wearing a uniform and medals they have no business wearing at all.’
Captain Benjamin Taylor, prosecuting, told the one-day court martial in Portsmouth that Barnett, who was described in court as professional and generous, had been an acting sergeant in 2011.
But he was a corporal again in June last year and wore the sergeant’s uniform, plus a long service and good conduct medal, a Nato medal for operations in Afghanistan and the King’s Badge - awarded to the best recruit of any batch to pass out from training - all of which he was not entitled to wear.
Capt Taylor said by wearing the items Barnett, who has been in the marines for 16 years and seen service in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo, had ‘fundamentally undermined good order and discipline and showed complete disregard to them’ and ‘he did it to show off and impress others’.
The court heard that the offence came to light when other marines saw the images of Barnett at the wedding in Harrow, north London, on Facebook that had been tagged.
Colour Sergeant Dominic Conway said he was ‘livid’ when he saw the pictures and tackled Barnett about it.
‘I was quite surprised and shocked. He was not entitled to. I was livid about it,’ he told the court.
Another senior NCO, Regimental Sergeant Major Joseph Gillespie, also said he talked to Barnett about it.
In a statement he said: ‘He (Barnett) replied he wanted to look good in front of his family. He wanted to “big it up” in front of his family.’
Giving evidence, Barnett said that his family asked him to wear his uniform and that he had not had time to alter his dress uniform back to the rank of corporal.
He denied he had said he wanted to ‘big himself up’ to RSM Gillespie.
He explained that the medals were a gift from his father and he used them as his real ones had been sent away to have the Diamond Jubilee Medal added.
He said he borrowed the mess uniform from someone else and it had the King’s badge on it and he was aware of its significance.
‘I knew I was not a sergeant. It was a private wedding and I never thought the photos would see the light of day,’ he told the court.
But the court martial panel of three Royal Navy officers found him guilty of the charge.
In mitigation, the court heard that Barnett meant no disrespect to the service, but he did it to keep his partner happy as she wanted him to wear the uniform.
The charge carried a maximum of two years imprisonment.