Marine accused of assaults on trainees

HMS Nelson in Queen Street, Portsmouth
HMS Nelson in Queen Street, Portsmouth
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A ROYAL Marine corporal training instructor pulled trainees’ hair, wrote on one person’s face with a marker and ‘danced suggestively’ in front of a female, a court martial heard.

Cpl Matthew Edwards, 29, is alleged to have carried out six assaults while working as a physical training instructor at the Royal Marines School of Music at HMS Nelson, prosecutor Major Les Campbell said.

The seventh charge Cpl Edwards faces relates to an incident where he allegedly danced suggestively and made comments on a coach travelling to London for the Mountbatten Festival of Music.

He is said to have been flicking or stroking the female musician’s hair at the time, the court martial heard.

Witness Emily Ball said Cpl Edwards was singing along to an iPod playing through speakers at the woman after dancing from the back of the coach.

That incident has been charged as disgraceful conduct of a cruel or indecent kind.

Cpl Edwards denies all the charges.

Major Campbell said: ‘In March 2014 some concerns were raised with the chain of command about some of the treatment of those trainees.’

A senior officer then held a ‘clear the decks’ session and a Royal Navy police investigation was later launched into the allegations.

Major Campbell said Cpl Edwards had pulled three different trainees’ hair during swimming sessions.

Another trainee went to him about an injury but Cpl Edwards drew on her face with a marker, he added.

Musician Joshua Flynn told the court that in January 2014 Cpl Edwards pulled him by his shirt during a training session on the athletics track at HMS Temeraire in Portsmouth.

He said Cpl Edwards was ‘frustrated’ when he gathered the group of around 60 trainees together at the end of the session.

Flynn said: ‘I was seen to be not be looking at the instructor clearly and the instructor came up to me, pulled me from my shirt.’

He added: ‘I was pushed back but I did not fall over.’

Robert Williams, defending, put it to Flynn this did not happen but he replied: ‘I’m sorry that’s not true, there are people who witnessed that happen.’

Mr Williams said Flynn had rolled his eyes and tutted during a debrief – Flynn said this did not happen.

Witness Frank Rochford told the court how the incident involving Flynn happened during a ‘telling off’ where he group were being admonished for performance.

He said: ‘I seen Cpl Edwards grab Musician Flynn with two hands to the upper body of his chest.’

He added the corporal then made a comment about Flynn not paying attention and let go of him.

The trial at Portsmouth Military Court continues.