Naval officer raped fellow student, court martial told

A Royal Navy officer cadet raped a fellow student following a ball at an officer-training college when she was 'too drunk to fight back or give consent', a Portsmouth court martial heard.

Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 9:36 am
Updated Thursday, 2nd June 2016, 5:57 pm

Samuel Mitchell, 27, who is now a sub lieutenant, is accused of going into the room of the cadet at the Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth, Devon, following a Victory In Europe Day dinner dance attended by students, staff and guests, on May 8 last year.

David Richards, prosecuting, told the Portsmouth Naval Base court martial centre that the alleged victim had been carried back to her room by friends after she had drunk too much at the event.

He said she had drunk four glasses of Pimms, a glass of red wine, some Champagne, and a double gin and tonic.

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While asleep in her room, the defendant had entered her room, undressed himself and her before climbing on top of her, the court heard.

Mr Richards said the complainant was so drunk and afraid that she had been unable to fight back and she was “lolling around” during the incident.

She had also crossed her arms across her chest and said “No sex” to Mitchell, the court heard.

Mr Richards said: “The prosecution case is that whilst an officer cadet he raped a fellow officer cadet, he did so after a Victory In Europe dinner dance and the rape took place in her cabin where she had gone to sleep.”

Mr Richards said the alleged rape happened after Mitchell, who described himself as having a “high sex drive”, had a “consensual sexual encounter” with another woman but his advances had been rejected.

He continued: “Shortly after that he went to the officer cadet’s room determined to have sex, she didn’t fight, she didn’t kick, she didn’t scream, she was affected by drink and shocked by what he was doing. She did a limited attempt to push him away but she remained lifeless.”

Mr Richards said, in a bid to get him to stop, the complainant asked him to put a condom on which led him to go back to his room and return with the contraceptive before continuing with the alleged rape.

Mr Richards said: “We are all entitled to do what we want with out bodies, we are entitled to decide whether we have sexual intercourse, that is what is meant by consent.

“Both of them had been drinking that night, drunken consent is nonetheless consent provided the complainant has not lost the capability to choose to have sex.

“The prosecution case is that she didn’t consent at all, it is the prosecution case the defendant knew full well she had been drinking.

“He knew she was drunk and that her passivity didn’t reflect a choice she had made but the fact that she didn’t have the wherewithal to resist him.”

He added: “He wasn’t concerned about her lack of response, he just took what he could.”

Mr Richards said the orgasm experienced by the complainant did not indicate consent.

He said: “That is a physical reaction that didn’t indicate consent on her behalf. She reflected in her comments her shame and frustration that even her body let her down.”

Mitchell, who faces two counts of rape in connection with the incident, denies the offences.

In police interview, he said the woman had flirted with him during the evening and “said goodbye with a wink”.

Mr Richards said: “He knew she was a little drunk but not comatose, she was really excited and horny about it.

“They had sex in various positions and she enjoyed it.”

Mitchell also said she made up the rape allegation because she was frightened of the impact on her career of having sex in her room, which was against the rules.

The defendant told police that “because she was a bit of a brown-nose, when she heard people were talking about the sex, she must have panicked.”

The court was told that the complainant had threatened Mitchell not to tell anyone about the incident because she had been worried she would get into trouble.

Mr Richards said: “She told him not to tell anyone or, when she was high up in the Navy, she would ruin his career.”

The BRNC is the sole centre for Royal Navy officer training, which has been run at the site since 1863.

In an interview shown to the court, which consists of a panel of five senior officers sitting with a judge advocate, the complainant said she could not explain why she had not fought back against the defendant.

She said: “I didn’t know what was going, I didn’t really comprehend there was someone actually there, I think I must have been still half asleep when he positions himself on top of me and he undressed me.”

She described how he “aggressively” and repeatedly hit the bedside light, breaking its frame, as he lay on top of her.

She said: “I was scared, I don’t know why I didn’t push him away, I was putting my arms in front of me to get something between me and him but he was still there, I think at this point I couldn’t stop him, I don’t know why I couldn’t articulate that I didn’t want this.

“I crossed my arms, I tried to push him away, I felt I couldn’t stop him.”

She added: “I was saying ‘no’, I am sure I said ‘no sex’, I am sure I said those words, I couldn’t get him to stop, I could feel him against me and if I couldn’t stop him, I thought I could get him to put a condom on so I didn’t get pregnant.

“I said: ‘You haven’t even got a condom on’ and he said ‘It’s okay because I was checked three weeks ago’.

“He got up and I thought he was gone, I thought I had stopped him.”

She continued: “I can’t forgive myself for not getting up and locking the door, I think that because I was so drunk, I went straight back to sleep. Then he came back in again, he locked the door again and I can only assume I told him to go out.”

She said that she had been “completely tense” when the sex resumed and she had hurt her back and head as he “manhandled” her around the room including on to the sink and her desk.

She admitted passing a bottle of moisturiser to him when he asked for it but she added: “I do not know why I did that, I didn’t want him to violate me again.”

She said that when she woke up in the morning, she asked him to leave her room.

She said: “I was really upset, I was in a cold sweat, I was just shaking, I do not know how long that went on for, I just laid there.”

The complainant said that she later confronted Mitchell later and threatened to ruin his career because she could not cope with others being aware of what had happened.

She said: “I blamed myself for being drunk, I couldn’t cope with this myself, if more people were aware of what happened I was worried I was going to get into trouble for what happened.

“I blamed myself for what happened, that I didn’t physically react.”