Sailor’s evidence against accused comes under fire at court martial in Portsmouth

HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious
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DOUBTS have been cast over evidence given at the court martial of two sailors accused of savagely assaulting two fellow shipmates.

Former Able Seaman Mark Pearse, 29, and Engineering Technician Aarron Evans, 28, have been charged with grievous bodily harm, assault and battery and perverting the course of justice – accusations they both deny.

You have changed it from having “overheard” something vaguely to a confession

Matthew Farmer, defence barrister for Mark Pearse

The pair, who were serving aboard the former HMS Illustrious, allegedly attacked Petty Officer Christopher Jordan and Engineering Technician David Pape on a night out in the Sicilian capital of Palermo in August 2013.

However, at a hearing at Portsmouth Naval Base’s court martial centre, it was revealed there was scant physical evidence linking the men to the crime.

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

Earlier in the case, Able Seaman Aaron Camwell said that Evans had ‘confessed’ to him about being involved in the assault while at a bar.

However, during cross-examination, defence counsel Paul Fairley claimed no such confession had ever occurred.

He told the court Evans had only joined Illustrious’s ship’s company two weeks before the assault and that they had hardly socialised together.

‘The two of you barely spoke a word to each other,’ Mr Fairley said.

‘Yet he just comes up to the bar and tells you he has something to tell you. Why you – someone he had barely ever spoken a word to?’

He told the court AB Camwell had ‘badgered’ both of the accused into ‘admitting they had something to do with the crime’.

Mr Fairley said AB Camwell was panicking over rumours someone called Aaron had been involved in the attack – something the sailor denied.

Pearse’s defence barrister, Matthew Farmer, also raised his concerns over the sailor’s claims indicting his client.

He questioned why it took AB Camwell weeks to report the apparent confession and claimed when the sailor did he ‘embellished’ his statement and had repeatedly accused his client of the assault after becoming ‘suspicious’ of him.

‘You have changed it from having “overheard” something vaguely to a confession,’ Mr Farmer told the court.

Responding, AB Camwell said it had been a ‘big step’ to report the men.