Officer tells court martial she felt 'preyed upon'

2:47 pm on 16 May 2016

A navy officer says a commander grabbed her buttocks four times during drinks held after a dinner function at the Devonport Naval Base in Auckland in May 2012.

The commander denies the charge of indecent assault.

A previous court martial in March failed to reach a verdict.

The officer told the court martial she was grabbed on the bottom four times during the evening, including two occasions she described as "a full grope" between her buttocks.

Each time, she turned around to see the commander, she said.

She did not witness his hand touching her, but it was clear it was the commander who was doing it, she said.

The first time it happened, there was no one else behind her.

"I immediately turned to see who had done it and said, 'Hey'. In reply he looked back at me and laughed."

After the last grab, she turned around and swore at the commander, who threw his hands in the air in a gesture of mock innocence, she said.

She kept moving to different parts of the room, but felt "preyed upon" no matter where she stood, the officer said.

"I felt victimised... Just kind of used, I guess, like I was there for amusement rather than being part of the [group]."

The prosecution said military police questioned 19 naval officers who were also at the event but none of them could recall seeing or hearing about an indecent assault.

However,two witnesses told the court they had seen the woman looking upset during the evening.

The commander's defence lawyer, Major Peter Brock, spent the morning questioning the officer's memory of the evening, including differences between her initial statement and a later, more detailed statement she gave.

That included who was at the event and what the commander's role at the event was.

"You said you didn't want to make a statement because your memory was so poor?" Mr Brock asked.

The woman said when she made her original statement the last thing she wanted to do was go through the formality of a complaint and a possible court martial.

"I did a really quick statement hoping that they would say it was a few years ago, it's too late - I didn't think a lot about the statement I was making."