Married Navy officer guilty of sex assault during Oman posting


A married Royal Navy officer has been found guilty of sexually assaulting a woman who fell asleep on his bed after he invited her back to his room following a night out while stationed in Oman.

Lieutenant Peter Coughlin was convicted following a court martial trial at Portsmouth Naval Base of assault by penetration which, the court heard, happened in his accommodation at Musannah air base near Muscat on the morning of March 20 last year.

Lieutenant Colonel Will Peters, prosecuting, told the hearing that the 34-year-old defendant and his alleged victim had been drinking at a hotel in Muscat before going back to the air base together.

The pair smoked a shisha pipe outside his cabin before Coughlin, who is currently based at the Air Warfare Centre in Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, invited the woman back to his room.

Lt Col Peters said Coughlin, training officer for 814 Naval Air Squadron, had suggested putting a film on in his room but, as he attempted to work his laptop, the woman fell asleep on his single bed.

He said: "The next thing that happened was she woke up on Lt Coughlin's bed, it was light outside. She awoke and appreciated what was going on. She instantly jumped off the bed, he immediately said sorry and she left the cabin."

In a video interview shown to the court, the victim said she was "disgusted" by Coughlin's actions which "made her skin crawl".

Describing the incident, she said: "I remember feeling really, really tired. I laid on his bed and as soon as my head hit the pillow I must have fallen asleep because that was the last recollection I had until the morning."

She said she awoke realising she was being sexually assaulted and added: "I was trying to process what was going on. When I realised what was going on, I instantly jumped up. He said 'Sorry, sorry' and I proceeded to get out of his cabin."

She continued: "I felt physically sick, I couldn't really understand what had just occurred, I just burst into tears. I went to have a shower, I tried to process it. I should never, never have gone into his cabin."

She added: "There was no form of consent in any manner, he thought he could just get away with it."

Lt Col Peters said the defendant claimed the woman had been awake at the time and had consented.

He also claimed she had been flirtatious earlier by passing a piece of fruit to him with her mouth.

Coughlin will be sentenced on April 28 for the offence of assault by penetration with his fingers.