Royal Navy sailor groped female colleague twice during party on HMS Defender, court martial is told

A Royal Navy sailor sexually assaulted a female colleague by twice groping her bottom at a celebratory party on board a warship, a court martial heard.

By Tom Morton
Monday, 22nd November 2021, 5:50 pm

Leading Engineering Technician Danny Holmes 'couldn't keep his hands to himself' during the event on destroyer HMS Defender, which had been deployed to the Gulf.

The court heard LET Holmes, who was serving as a weapons engineer on the Type 45 ship, twice 'stroked' the woman's buttocks and simply laughed when she confronted him and complained.

It was said that the pair had hardly met before the incidents.

LET Danny Holmes arriving at Bulford Military Court. Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency

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LET Holmes denies two counts of sexual assault by touching, claiming she made up the allegations against him after becoming angry following an argument over a bottle of wine.

The trial, at Bulford Military Court, Wilts, heard HMS Defender's crew were celebrating that evening and after enjoying a meal, the female sailor entered a mess below deck where she was allegedly touched for the first time.

She told the court: ‘We had dinner and then moved to the mess at about 7pm.

Bulford Military Court. Picture: Solent News & Photo Agency

‘I came through a doorway into the mess... it was quite busy - there was music playing and everyone was chatting.

‘LET Holmes was stood to the right as I walked through the doorway. We had a generic conversation that lasted a minute, if that.

‘I continued [into the mess] and felt a hand on my right buttock. It wasn't a grab, but it was not like someone was brushing past, either.

‘It was an intentional touch... I felt his fingertips at the bottom of my right bum cheek.

‘I immediately confronted him - he was the only person that was close to me - and said, “You just touched me on the bum, what are you doing?”

‘I remember him laughing as if it was ridiculous that I would confront him with something like that.

‘I told him it was inappropriate, and felt that was the end of it.’

However, the court was told that later in the evening LET Holmes again approached the young woman.

The victim continued: ‘Round about two hours later I was stood at the bar. LET Holmes had approached me not long before, and said something along the lines of, “We friends? We good?”

‘I was past it, so I said, “Yes. Fine, whatever”. He seemed drunk.

‘There were about four people around the bar having a chat. LET Holmes was walking around behind me and did the same as he did before.

‘It was not the back of his hand, it was definitely an open palm. [This one] was a brush, because he was moving and I was standing still.

‘Again, there was no one else who could have done it. I said, 'You touched me again', and he reacted similarly... he denied it and laughed at me.

‘When I reported it I was absolutely hysterical. I was very upset - it was a horrible situation to be in.’

Prosecuting, Mr William Peters told the court: ‘LET Holmes deliberately twice stroked the buttocks of [the victim]

‘He believes [the victim] made these allegations up after an argument they had over a bottle of wine.

‘[LET Holmes] could not keep his hands to himself and took the liberty of touching [the victim] on two occasions.’

The trial continues.