THREE Royal Navy sailors have appeared before Canadian prosecutors accused of gang-raping a woman while stationed in the country.
Simon Radford, 32, and Darren Smalley, 26 – both from Gosport – along with Joshua Finbow, 24, of Stockbridge, have all been charged with sexually assaulting a woman in 2015.
The trio were this week hauled in front of Dartmouth Provincial Court as lawyers thrashed out whether there was enough evidence to take them to trial.
It is the second time men have appeared in a preliminary hearing in relation to the sex attack.
The last appearance, in April, saw Canadian prosecutors dropping charges against a fourth sailor, Craig Stoner, 25, claiming there was not enough evidence to convict him.
Now Radford, Smalley and Finbow will have to wait another two months to find out if they too are cleared.
The four sailors were arrested on April 10 last year.
They had all been taking part in a hockey tournament against armed forces personnel based in Canada.
Canadian prosecutors alleged that once the men returned to the Shearwater naval base, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, they joined an alcohol-fuelled party before sexually assaulting a woman – a civilian in her 20s.
The men were held in the country after the incident before being moved to a military base in Alberta where there is a British Army training unit.
The men were allowed to fly back to the UK while they awaited their court dates.
The purpose of this series of preliminary hearings is to test the Canadian prosecutors’ case to decide whether the men will be committed to a full trial.
Speaking at the opening of the hearing, at Nova Scotia Supreme Court, Canadian prosecutor Scott Morrison said: ‘We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think it met the realistic prospect of a conviction.
‘Obviously we’re going to push it forward as far as the evidence allows.’
Despite two preliminary hearings, Canadian lawyers say they need more time to consider the evidence against the remaining accused.
A new, two-day hearing has now been arranged, beginning on September 28 and September 30.
There is currently a ban on reporting any evidence that is mentioned in court.