Sailor gives court martial evidence over gun claims

31/5/13        SB''HMS Edinburgh returns to Portsmouth for the last time before she is decommissioned''Picture: Paul Jacobs  (131468-1)
31/5/13 SB''HMS Edinburgh returns to Portsmouth for the last time before she is decommissioned''Picture: Paul Jacobs (131468-1)

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A Royal Navy sailor accused of threatening a superior officer with an assault rifle says he was carrying the weapon to clean it, and did not intend to alarm anyone.

The court martial of Leading Seaman (Above Water Warfare) Kevin Moffat continued at Portsmouth Naval Base.

The 45-year-old is accused of taking an SA80 assault rifle and three rounds of ammunition to the cabin of HMS Edinburgh’s executive officer while they were berthed in Lisbon, Portugal.

Prosecutors say he took the rifle there with the intention of threatening the officer, Lieutenant Commander Robin Williams, because he was anxious to get home for the birth of his child.

But Moffat says he decided to see Lt Cdr Williams on the spur of the moment, and was actually en route to the upper deck to clean the rifle.

He accepted his actions were a breach of protocol, but denies any intention to threaten his superiors.

Giving evidence today, Moffat said: ‘I heard his voice and I wanted to see him there and then because I knew the executive officer could give me answers.

‘I felt the others were pushing me from pillar to post, so I thought he would give me the answers straight.

‘I went up to his cabin and said “Sir, can I have a word”.

‘I can’t remember the exact words I said.

‘The weapon was unloaded, I wouldn’t say anything else.’

Wing Commander Andrew McKendrick, prosecuting, yesterday accused Moffat of deliberately planning his actions.

He said: ‘You knew it meant the executive officer would believe that you could use that weapon against him.’

Moffat replied: ‘Not at all, sir.’

The court martial was told Moffat had been in the navy for 25 years and lived in Gosport with his wife and two daughters.

Five years ago, he had been serving on board Portsmouth-based HMS Edinburgh when his partner was due to give birth.

He was unable to return from the Falkland Islands at the time, and missed the due date.

Moffat was then crash-drafted onto the ship in September last year, meaning he was deployed at short notice, and feared he would again be unable to return home in time for the birth.

In his most recent appraisal, he was described as capable, reliable and well-respected by both command and his peers.

The prosecution and defence today gave their closing arguments before the panel left to decide on a verdict.

They will resume deliberations tomorrow.