7 Jul 2016

Army combat trainer 'lost perspective'

8:40 pm on 7 July 2016

An army instructor accused of grabbing recruits' testicles and pulling their hair lost perspective on his role as a teacher, the prosecution has told a court martial.

The trial of Glen Edward Roberts is drawing to a close and the jury is expected to deliver a verdict this afternoon.

Mr Roberts has pleaded not guilty to 13 charges of ill-treatment of a person of lower rank, assault and prejudicing service discipline.

In her summation Crown lawyer Kate Felton told the court Mr Roberts manipulated his position of power during training.

"He is a very intense individual, he is a very dominant individual - he isn't someone who has been in the army for a matter of weeks is going to challenge."

She said witnesses clearly remembered him grabbing the genitals and pulling the hair of recruits.

"What [Mr Roberts] did has remained in the memories of the witnesses for two years... you know if something happened or not," she said.

Defence lawyer Major Steve Taylor said some of Mr Roberts' actions had been misinterpreted and he would never have risked his career.

He said recruits had to be well-trained and disciplined.

"They've got to be violent, they're being trained for real war... possible enemies faced by the New Zealand Defence Force are a pretty brutal bunch - the Taliban and ISIS."

Major Taylor told the court martial some of Mr Roberts' actions had likely been misinterpreted and some of the witnesses were mistaken about what they thought they saw.

He said Mr Roberts would not have put his 28 year career on the line by doing what he is accused of.

Five recruits from two separate close combat courses run by Mr Roberts in September and October 2014 have given evidence over the past two days.

They claimed Mr Roberts used them for demonstrations during the training and went too far, including hitting male recruits in the testicles and poking one in the eyes.

He is also accused of using a real knife during training, pulling the hair of a female recruit and saying "I'm going to rape you, white b**ch", and dragging a recruit to the ground and lying on her until she grabbed his testicles.

Mr Roberts denied all of the incidents. "I don't teach that, I don't do that," he said.

"I certainly don't encourage people to grab people's balls... I do not encourage people to grab testicles, or grab balls, it's 'seize the groin area'."

Another instructor who had worked with Mr Roberts told the court martial he was "one of the best CQB [close quarter battle] instructors you could ever get".

"I'll give him a 10 out of 10 for honesty and integrity," the other instructor said.

Mr Roberts told the court martial he did not recognise many of the recruits involved in the trial.

Crown lawyer Ms Felton said he may not remember the recruits, but they remembered him.