Royal Navy trainee claims squeezing genitals of fellow recruits was ‘banter’, court martial hears

Michael Carmona
Michael Carmona, pictured arriving at Bulford Military Court, has denied four counts of sexual assault, as well as one count of disobedience of lawful command

A Royal Navy trainee claimed he had squeezed the genitals of fellow recruits as “banter”, a court martial heard.

Michael Carmona, 25, said he wanted “to fit in with the group” as he faced accusations of groping classmates while they were naked in the shower, sleeping in bed or walking past him in the corridor.

He is also accused of hugging and tickling the chin of one sailor in particular during the three weeks they trained together at HMS Raleigh in Cornwall, the Royal Navy’s largest training establishment.

Carmona has denied four counts of sexual assault, as well as one count of disobedience of lawful command, and has appeared at Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, for a four-day trial.

The court heard that Carmona had initially told service police he touched the first sailor’s genitals as “banter”.

He has since claimed if there was any touching, it was accidental, and that any contact was “an attempt to try and fit in with the group”.

Graham Coombes, prosecuting, said the offences took place early last year and involved three alleged victims.

He detailed the account of one fellow recruit in particular, who was in training with Carmona.

“In week two, without warning [Carmona] cupped his genitals with his right hand over his clothing out of nowhere,” he said. “On another occasion the accused made physical contact with his genitals, squeezing his penis briefly. On other occasions he tickled his chin and poked him in the ribs.

“He would say his name in a creepy, high-pitched voice and grabbed his hips with both hands and thrust his genitals into his bottom.

“He found [Carmona’s] behaviour increasingly upsetting.”

The court heard a second recruit, whose bed was next to Carmona’s, complained of his conduct.

“On the second day whilst he was laying on his bed in the evening with lights out, the accused came into his bed area and then put his hands onto his crotch area on the duvet,” Mr Coombes said.

“He said, ‘whoa what are you doing?’ and the accused said, ‘oh, wrong bed’.”

It was also heard that Carmona “creeped” out fellow classmates by “looking at their genitals rather than their faces” while they were showering.

When interviewed, Carmona said the incidents were “playful but not sexual”.

He said he “sometimes went too far” with what he called “banter” and admitted to hugging one recruit “every other day”.

Carmona has since left the Navy.

The trial continues.