Lieutenant Commander Garry Storey was ‘very, very drunk’ in an officers’ mess on the Falkland Islands when he staggered from the dance floor, put his arm around the Flight Lieutenant and made a series of ‘cringe-worthy’ comments.
A court martial heard he ‘squeezed’ her towards him while slurring his words, described the young woman as ‘stunning’ to those around him and then stood back and struck her forcefully on the backside.
This left the RAF officer ‘in distress’ and Lt Cdr Storey was immediately asked to leave the mess.
The 39-year-old married father of two apologised profusely for his conduct when he appeared at Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire, claiming ‘on the night in question I was not myself’.
Lt Cdr Storey admitted a charge of disgraceful conduct of an indecent kind and confessed ‘I crossed the line and it’s right I’m punished for it’.
Judge Advocate Robert Hill said he had come within ‘the width of a cigarette paper’ of being kicked out the military, after 18 years’ service.
He handed him a 'severe reprimand' and a £5,000 fine and added 'The position the navy take on your future is a matter for them'.
Prosecutor Colonel Grant Davies said: ‘She walked into the officers mess at about 11pm... She had two drinks but switched to water because she was working the next day.
‘She noticed a man dancing energetically on the dance floor, who she now knows to be Lt Cdr Storey, but paid him no heed and carried on.
‘She went to the bar and was speaking with a male friend when Lt Cdr Storey came over and placed his arm around her waist.
‘She said he gripped her in a constant squeeze and pulled her towards him.
‘Lt Cdr Storey made several comments which in the cold light of day are rather cringe-worthy.
‘He said “this one's beautiful, she's stunning, why are you with her, is she alone?"’
The court heard he also said ‘You need to treat her nice’ and ‘don’t hurt this one’ while making comments about why the two people standing at the bar should be together.
Col Davies said he was ‘rather difficult to understand’ because he was slurring his words throughout and there was ‘no context’.
Lt Cdr Storey was described as ‘very drunk but sincere’ and the female officer was left ‘embarrassed’.
In an attempt to end the conversation, she made a ‘nervous joke’ about inviting him to their wedding.
Col Davies added: ‘Without saying a word, he stood back and struck the woman on her bottom.
‘She described the force as being seven out of 10... She was in distress and at that point Lt Cdr Storey was asked to leave.’
The next day, the officer couldn't remember anything he had said or done to the woman due to drinking six pints and spirits, ‘much more than usual’ according to him.
Col Davies read to the court a statement made by the female RAF officer, in which she said: ‘You took away my worth, my safety, my integrity and my confidence.
‘You made me feel like an object... I felt unable to relax and enjoy my downtime in the mess and always asked a friend to accompany me to the mess, usually a male friend so they could protect me.
‘I felt on edge and unable to trust anyone... You made me feel uncomfortable in a place I was supposed to call my home.
‘You thought you had a right to slap my bottom in an intimate area of my body that no-one has the right to touch without my permission.’
Lt Cdr Storey addressed the court himself, saying: ‘I wish to express my sincere apology to the victim. I recognise it's never ok for something like this to happen.
‘I understand the impact my words and deeds have had on her. I crossed the line and it's right I'm punished for it.
‘On the night in question I was not myself and although that is no excuse I hope it goes some way to explain why I did something so out of character.’
Commander Oliver Clark, defending, said the navy had to ‘take some responsibility for the strain they place on their officers’.
He told the court Lt Cdr Storey had spent 19 months out of the two years prior to this incident at sea and was finding it difficult spending so much time away from his family in Portsmouth.
On the night of the incident, Cdr Clark said Lt Cdr Storey ‘planned to get drunk’ as it was his first day off for a while and he had been working 18-hour days.
Judge Advocate Robert Hill, sentencing, said: ‘You had gotten yourself very, very drunk to the point where you were not far off incapable.
‘The victim was at the bar with a colleague and you made comments in a patronising, sexist sort of way. You caused her great distress and embarrassment.’
After giving Lt Cdr Storey, of patrol vessel HMS Forth, a severe reprimand and £5,000 fine, the judge added: ‘If you think you have been hard done by, I want to stress that you could have been dismissed and it is by the width of a cigarette paper you have not been.
‘Had the victim been in your chain of command, it could have been different.
‘The position the navy take on your future is a matter for them.’
Falklands patrol ship HMS Forth is the first of five new Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV). She entered service in 2018, becoming ‘the eyes and ears of the Royal Navy at home and abroad’.