Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Naval officer jailed for sex assault on sleeping woman

Portsmouth Naval Base
Image caption The trial took place at Portsmouth Naval Base's court martial centre

A married Royal Navy officer has been jailed for two and a half years for sexually assaulting a woman who fell asleep on his bed after a night out.

Lieutenant Peter Coughlin assaulted the woman after inviting her back to his room while he was stationed in Oman.

The 34-year-old, now based at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, was convicted of assault by penetration after a court martial trial at Portsmouth Naval Base.

He has been ordered to sign the sex offenders register.

The attack happened on 20 March 2015, when Coughlin was based at Musannah airbase near Muscat.

'Strength of character'

Judge advocate Robert Hill said the officer had acted in an "episode of pure madness" and was "clutching at straws" by believing his victim was attracted to him.

The trial heard the defendant and victim had been drinking at a hotel before returning to the airbase.

Coughlin, a training officer for 814 Naval Air Squadron, suggested watching a film in his room but the woman fell asleep on his single bed.

In a video shown to the court, the victim said: "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."

Sentencing Coughlin for an offence of sexual assault by penetration with his fingers, Judge Hill said: "In an episode of pure madness you failed to resist the temptation. She trusted you completely."

He added: "It would be remiss of me if I didn't pay respect to the position of your wife, also a serving officer. The court commends her strength of character, resilience and fortitude."

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