6 Jul 2016

Accused army instructor 'doesn't recall' recruits

4:57 pm on 6 July 2016

An army instructor accused of hitting recruits' testicles and making rape threats during training says he can't recall any of the alleged victims.

Staff Sergeant Glen Edward Roberts, who is on trial before a court martial at Linton Army Camp, has pleaded not guilty to 13 charges of ill treatment of a person of lower rank, assault and committing an act likely to prejudice service discipline.

It is alleged the assaults occurred during close combat training in Waiouru in 2014.

Glen Edward Roberts at a court martial at Linton Military Camp on Monday 4 July.

Glen Edward Roberts Photo: RNZ / Kate Pereyra Garcia

Mr Roberts was the first witness called by his defence team this afternoon.

He told the court martial he didn't recognise any of the recruits involved in the trial and he denied any ill treatment of them.

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 by 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'."

He was very precise in what he taught and how he taught it when it came to close combat training, he said. He gave several demonstrations in court.

He also did not remember the two female recruits whose hair he was accused of pulling, he said.

"I don't recollect her at all," he said, when asked about one of the recruits.

And, in relation to the other: "I don't recollect any of that... I've only seen her face at this trial and at the summary trial."

Mr Roberts was passionate about the subject he taught, he said.

"[Close quarter combat] is a kill or be killed situation... It's life or death, it's either you or the other guy or girl."

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, who was described as a grandfather and a Christian, became emotional while telling the court martial about his faith and baptism in 2014.

"It's just basically changed my life," he said.

He first joined the army in 1981, and said he was now in the process of leaving to take up a job in Rotorua.