‘Devastated’ wife speaks out after sailors are cleared

The former HMS Illustrious
The former HMS Illustrious
  • Two former HMS Illustrious sailors are cleared of assault charges
  • Wife of victim speaks of disappointment over the verdict
  • One of the defendants is found guilty of intimidating a witness
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THE wife of a navy helicopter crewman who was viciously attacked on a night out has spoken of her devastation after two men accused of the crime were cleared.

Melanie Jordan, 31, spoke to The News after the verdict of a court martial at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth.

It’s been three years of waiting for us, and now that this verdict has come in it’s really disappointing

Melanie Jordan

The case involved the assault of her husband, Petty Officer Christopher Jordan and Engineering Technician David Pape in Sicily in 2013, when the now-decommissioned aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious was visiting the island.

Mark Pearse, 29, and Engineering Technician Aarron Evans, 28, were found not guilty of grievous bodily harm, assault and battery against PO Jordan and ET Pape. But Pearse was found guilty of intimidating a witness, Able Seaman Aaron Camwell, who said he had threatened him and his family if he reported the assault.

Mrs Jordan, who lives in Helston, Cornwall, said: ‘It’s been three years of waiting for us, and now that this verdict has come in it’s really disappointing.

‘I just hope the people who did it are not still in the navy.

‘We’ve just got to draw a line under it now and move on.’

PO Jordan received a jaw fracture and other head wounds and was off work for seven months after the attack, which happened when he tried to break up a fight while on shore leave in the island’s capital Palermo.

But the court heard there was no forensic evidence and the victims couldn’t identify the defendants as their attackers.

Mrs Jordan said her husband was back on deployment at a base in Sicily, but was still paying the price for the attack.

She said: ‘For someone who had never had a day off in his life, to be struck down by someone else was a bit of a blow to us.

‘We’ve been left out of pocket and he has permanent scarring. He was unable to claim through the armed forces compensation scheme because it happened on a night out.’

The court heard that PO Jordan and ET Pape had come to the aid of a Royal Marine who was being harassed by two men, who the prosecution claimed was Pearse and Evans.

Pearse said he and Evans were not involved in that encounter but had stepped in to break up a different fight between two other sailors.

After the verdict, Evans said: ‘I’m very glad that my name has now been cleared and I have been exonerated.

‘I’m more than happy to put these allegations behind me.’

AB Camwell told the court Evans had admitted the assault to him, but the defence denied this ever happened.

AB Camwell claimed the pair had threatened to harm him if he reported the crime, and said Pearse had even threatened his family.

‘No job is worth having your family threatened,’ he told the court.

Pearse’s sentencing will follow next month.