Royal Navy ceremonial officer who led sailors at Prince Philip's funeral on trial accused of breaking former pal's ankle

A DECORATED sailor who led the Royal Navy at Prince Philip’s funeral has gone on trial accused of breaking the ankle of his fiance’s ex-partner.

Thursday, 6th May 2021, 3:50 pm

Warrant officer Darren Wearing MBE denies being ‘aggressive’ to former friend of 18 years Mark Brocklesby, with whom he has served at sea, during the incident in Gosport.

The 45-year-old warrant officer, who accepts pushing the man, marched sailors onto the quadrangle for the Duke of Edinburgh’s funeral last month in his role as the senior service’s state ceremonial training officer.

Jurors have been told by Commander Nicola Cripps that Wearing was ‘hand selected’ for his role.

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Darren Wearing, state ceremonial training officer for the Royal Navy. Picture: Habibur Rahman

His term as lead ceremonial officer – including overseeing sailors guarding Buckingham Palace for the first time ever in 2017 – was extended in anticipation of the Duke of Edinburgh’s death.

Within 40 to 60 minutes of Prince Philip’s death he was involved in activating preparations with sailors arriving at Collingwood within 12 hours, Cdr Cripps said.

‘(His role) needed somebody calm and Mr Wearing is somebody who is trusted by the very head of the Royal Navy,’ Cdr Cripps said.

He has never been in any ‘scrapes,’ Cdr Cripps said adding he ‘doesn’t get angry’ at work.

Portsmouth Crown Court heard WO1 Wearing, based at HMS Collingwood in Fareham, denies causing grievous bodily harm to his former friend in an incident two years ago.

Prosecutor Roderick Blaim told how Wearing had shouted at Mr Brocklesby accusing him of lying at the start of the incident.

Both men came face to face outside the home of the defendant’s fiancee before Wearing pushed him ‘directly to the chest’.

Wearing told jurors he had in the past seen Mr Brocklesby taking steroids and his demeanour that morning ‘made me fearful for myself’.

Serving in combat zones over his near 30-year unblemished service taught him skills to ‘sense the tensions’ and ‘combat indicators’ in a situation, he said. He said his former friend had clenched his jaw.

‘I didn’t want to get hit or assaulted so my actions were to give some space so I pushed him,’ Wearing told jurors.

Wearing said he pushed him ‘hard’ and his former pal then ‘puffed himself up’.

The Gulf War veteran then pushed Mr Brocklesby for a second time where he ‘stumbled quite a distance’.

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Jurors heard Mr Brocklesby fell over a wall outside the home in Lapwing Close, Gosport on July 12 in 2019, breaking his ankle.

At the start of the clash Wearing had shouted at Mr Brocklesby calling him a liar and swearing.

Asked if that was aggressive, he denied this and said: ‘Because of what I do being a drill instructor I’m generally louder than what I should be.

‘My tone would be what it was normally.’

His barrister Ellie Fargin said: ‘When addressing members of the royal family would you use that language with them?’

Wearing said: ‘Definitely not.’

Ms Fargin asked if his language that day was ‘particularly hostile’.

Wearing added: ‘No. I get it’s abusive language but I think that’s potentially the military coming out of me.

‘I’m not saying it’s right but I think it’s generally accepted.’

Under questioning from prosecutor Mr Blain, Wearing said: ‘As soon as the moment his demeanour changed he changed the narrative that morning.’

Mr Blain said: ‘Mr Wearing, you were the aggressive person and you pushed Mr Brocklesby a number of times with no reasonable excuse, didn’t you?’

Wearing said: ‘My belief that I was going to be injured so I acted in self defence.’

The court heard allegations Mr Brocklesby had told others he would ‘break his legs’ in relation to Wearing.

The defendant said: ‘He was clearly upset that me and (my fiancee) were in a relationship and he had wanted to ruin that relationship.’

Jurors heard that Mr Brocklesby said Wearing had told him: ‘Come on big man.’

Giving evidence earlier in the trial, Mr Brocklesby said he initially ‘just laughed in his face’ during the July 12 incident in Lapwing Close, Gosport, but was then pushed open-palmed to the chest.

Former Royal Navy sailor Mr Brocklesby said he was pushed again to the chest, stumbling and falling over a wall.

He drove away but felt a ‘burning sensation’ in his ankle and went to Gosport War Memorial Hospital needing a boot and crutches on the day, and surgery six months later.

Wearing denies causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Brocklesby.

The serving sailor told jurors he wanted to ‘challenge him on his behaviour’ towards his then fiancee.

Wearing, who served in the Gulf War at 17 and later in Afghanistan and Yemen, is no longer engaged to the woman, he told jurors.

Jurors heard Mr Brocklesby and his former partner were in a ‘court battle’ over money when Wearing accused him of lying outside her house on the morning of the incident.

‘I want to have... word with you,’ Wearing had said, jurors heard. The pair were face to face at a wall near the home, the court heard.

Mr Brocklesby said he was pushed three times - the second time rolling his ankle - and shoulder barged when he walked past the defendant. Wearing denies a third push and the shoulder barge.

(Proceeding)

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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