Portsmouth naval officer spared jail for ‘bullying’ sexual assault

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A NAVY officer from Portsmouth has been spared jail for a ‘bullying’ sexual assault on a female colleague while giving sea cadets a tour of a nuclear submarine.

Lieutenant Basil Purdue, 26, was found guilty at a court martial trial at Portsmouth Naval Base of groping the breast over the clothing of the fellow sailor as she was helping him show the youngsters around HMS Vanguard at Helensburgh, Scotland, in February last year.

The married submariner, who is based at HMS Excellent, was given a three-month prison sentence suspended for two years, dismissed with disgrace from the service, and ordered to pay £750 compensation to the victim as well as signing the sex offenders’ register for seven years.

Judge Advocate Robert Hill said the victim had already been bullied by colleagues and was ‘miserable because of the sexualised banter’. He add Purdue’s actions were a ‘gross dereliction of duty’.

Captain Alison Towler, prosecuting, told the court the victim had been left ‘humiliated and ashamed’.

Reading a victim impact statement, she said: ‘I have become frustrated and angry and do not know where to turn.

‘I feel like I am falling into vicious circle of being angry and sad and feel like I need to lash out.

‘I wonder if the Royal Navy is for me I am wondering if this could happen again.

‘I have constantly battled to argue that women are equal in the Royal Navy but now I feel they are not.’

Damian Hayes, defending, said Purdue continued to deny the offence and said the conviction had destroyed his reputation as a man of ‘integrity, trustworthiness, support of others’.