Military panel unable to reach verdict

7:34 pm on 16 March 2016

A military panel has been unable to reach a verdict in the case against a navy commander accused of indecent assault at a court martial at Devonport Naval Base.

The commander has denied the charge, which relates to an alleged incident at the naval base in May 2012.

He has been accused by a lieutenant of grabbing her backside a number of times while they were drinking in a bar at the officers' mess.

The panel returned to court this afternoon, saying it could not reach a unanimous verdict after two hours of deliberation.

The three-member panel was told by Judge Blackie to continue to deliberate to try to reach a unanimous verdict, but they were unable to do so.

The judge discharged them but continued interim name supression in case there was a decision to hold another trial.

Judge Blackie told the panel that no one was asked to recall the event until three years later when the complaint was made.

That was a major issue because people remembered things differently, he said.

In his closing address prosecutor Chris Griggs said the navy officer reluctantly but courageously came forward to accuse the senior officer.

She was not keen to talk about her ordeal that took place in the crowded bar, he said.

The commander had every reason to lie about his involvement, Mr Griggs said.

For the defense, Major Peter Brock said it was patently implausible for a senior officer, the host of a VIP dinner and father to do something like this.

He said the lieutenant had more to drink than she was prepared to concede and had reconstructed memories and turned guesses into facts.

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