British Army officer dismisses 'malicious' rape claim, saying sex was consensual


A married British Army officer dismissed a junior colleague's claim that he raped her when she was drunk by saying they had consensual but "fairly animal" sex, an unprecedented trans-Atlantic court martial has heard.

Lieutenant Colonel Benedict Tomkins, of Defence, Equipment and Support, went to the woman's hotel room under false pretences after a drink-fuelled United Nations conference in Uganda, the trial in the US was told.

Timothy Bradbury, prosecuting, told Joint Base Andrews in Maryland on Tuesday that the 49-year-old told investigators that her claims were "malicious" and the sex was consensual despite it not being "rose petals or cupid's arrows, it was fairly animal".

It is the first ever court martial that will be held on both sides of the Atlantic in a move that allows witnesses to give evidence in the US before the court resumes in the UK next week.

The high-ranking officer, who appeared in court wearing a green uniform, is alleged to have attacked the woman at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala, Uganda, following an African UN conference.

Members of the armed forces were treated to a free drinks reception, dinner and entertainment from African dancers on January 7 2015, before some continued drinking in the lobby bar.

By the end of the evening she was "very drunk" and Tomkins, wearing his wedding ring, headed to her room, she told the jury of seven British Army officers.

In a police interview played to court, the complainant described how he entered her unlocked room and "instantly" began unzipping her dress.

"There was no talking, no romantic lead up to something, that I recall," she said.

She said he became "very" aggressive when she declined his advances and pushed him away.

He used force and the next thing she remembers is him being on top of her during sex while "the room was spinning", she added.

She woke up to her alarm in the morning and the officer was gone.

That day he wrote to her thanking her for a "fun and memorable evening" and she replied thanking him, adding it had been "wonderful".

She told investigators she feared reporting the incident and thought making a scene would harm her career.

"The idea of being a woman in a man's world, you don't want to raise issues, you want to be professional and do your job," she said.

Weeks after the incident, plagued by anxiety and insomnia, she saw a psychiatrist and made a report to the FBI.

According to Mr Bradbury, Tomkins told investigators the setting that night had been more intimate and there had been foreplay before he found her naked on the bed.

The lawyer added: "He said he had made the stupid decision of not telling her to put her clothes on.

"Rather he had undressed himself and engaged in sexual activity."

Tomkins, who is based at Abbey Wood, near Bristol, denies one count of rape between January 6-9 2015.

The trial, in front of Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett, is expected to head to Bulford, Wiltshire, on Monday after the prosecution's witnesses.