Four Royal Navy sailors charged over an alleged sexual assault in Canada were arrested after a woman claimed she had been gang-raped at a party, according to local reports,
Darren Smalley, 35, and Simon Radford, 31, both of Gosport, were charged with one count of sexual assault by the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.
Two other sailors, Craig Stoner, 24, of Stonehouse and Joshua Finbow, 23, of Stockbridge, were also charged.
The Halifax Chronicle Herald reported that the sexual assault allegedly happened on April 10 at a drinking party in a military barracks at Shearwater, near Halifax, Nova Scotia, where the men had been representing the Royal Navy in an ice hockey tournament.
It said that the alleged victim, a civilian in her 20s who lives in the Halifax area, went to hospital and was examined by sexual assault nurses.
The newspaper reported that military police obtained search warrants earlier this week and seized bedding, clothing and electronic devices such as cellphones, laptops and iPads.
It quoted a source close to the investigation as saying: ‘I expect very high-ups in both the Canadian and British navies are going to be watching this case closely.’
The British sailors appeared in court yesterday and were remanded to nearby Dartmouth jail until Monday as lawyers seek to agree bail terms.
The Chronicle Herald reported that outside court, prosecutor Scott Morrison said the Crown would agree to their release if they posted large cash deposits, surrendered their passports and agreed to remain in the country.
The Toronto Sun reported CFNIS spokesman Maj. Yves Desbiens as saying that the sailors were accused of assaulting a civilian woman on April 10 at the 12 Wing Shearwater military base.
This is a disturbing accusation of sexual assaultLieutenant Colonel Francis Bolduc, Canadian Forces National Investigation Service
Lieutenant Colonel Francis Bolduc, the commanding officer of the CFNIS, said: ‘This is a disturbing accusation of sexual assault.
‘I’m pleased with the full co-operation provided by the British authorities to support the hard work and diligence of the CFNIS team in responding to this matter.’
It was reported the men were charged following a ‘group sexual assault’ at barracks in Shearwater, Nova Scotia.
Prosecutor Scott Morrison said the British sailors were there playing in a hockey tournament with Canadian Armed Forces.
He said the Canadian military has jurisdiction over the case, but added that the British military could take over at some point. The sailors are being held and are due in court on Monday.
The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) last night confirmed it was aware of the allegations.
A spokeswoman for the MoD said: ‘The Royal Navy takes allegations of this nature very seriously, however as legal proceedings continue it would be inappropriate to comment further.’
The MoD said it would provide ‘appropriate assistance’ to the Canadian authorities.
The CFNIS is a unit within the Canadian Forces Military Police Group whose job is to investigate serious and sensitive matters in relation to Department of National Defence property, Department of National Defence employees and Canadian Armed Forces personnel serving in Canada and around the world.
*Picture via Twitter from Mayya Assouad (@Mayya_Global), reporter with Global News