Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

Sex on Navy ship 'consensual' says officer accused of attack on junior

A former Navy officer is on trial in the Auckland District Court. Photo / File
A former Navy officer is on trial in the Auckland District Court. Photo / File

The Navy officer accused of sexually violating a junior has told a jury the interaction was consensual.

Scott Christopher Devonport Ward is on trial at the Auckland District Court on a charge sexual violation by way of unlawful sexual connection with a junior naval officer in October 2011.

The woman, who has automatic name suppression, alleges Ward came into her cabin uninvited and forced his way into her bed.

The name of the ships involved are suppressed, as well as aspects of the ranks of those involved, details of Navy business and details about the witnesses.

The woman says Ward pinned her down, groped her breasts and digitally penetrated her against her will, only stopping when another person entered the cabin.

Ward's lawyer Anthony Rogers, questioned him today on the fifth day of the trial.

Ward said he married his long-time girlfriend last year. He is no longer in the Navy, but remains a member of its Volunteer Reserve unit.

A witness yesterday recalled Ward being in a female-only cabin the night before the alleged attack, but Ward said he did not recall doing so.

Drinking

He does not remember many details from the night of the alleged attack, but said he had been drinking at a friend's house before.

He consumed beer and spirits, and also had a meal.

When asked how affected by alcohol he was, he said: "I could walk and talk, I had my wits about me."

He said he knew he was breaking the Navy's fraternisation rules by going into the woman's cabin.

Their interaction was consensual, he said.

Ward said he did not digitally penetrate the woman, and denies her allegations that she struggled against him or that he held her back.

"There is no way I would have gone as far as I did had I known she was non-consenting."

Ward said the next memory he had of their encounter was another man entering the cabin and saying, "Yeah, Wardo. Get into it."

He said he then remembered the other man sitting on a couch in the room and the woman having sex with him. The other man told the jury this week he had sexual intercourse with the woman.

Ward said the other man said, "Let's do it family styles".

"I took that to mean a threesome. I said, 'No'. I remember thinking, 'This is wrong,' and, 'I'm out'. I got up and I left the room."

Log books

Ward has also countered the woman's claims about discrepancies in official log books and navigational records.

The victim alleged that Ward made uninvited and unnecessary contact with her while they carried out their duties.

But Ward said official records showed the pair were never alone together.

The woman said these had not been signed and were therefore not correct, and that there might have been a second copy of such documents that were also used.

Ward said it would be against Navy protocol to have incorrect or incomplete records.

Ward also denied apologising to the woman at a party in 2012, as she claims.

He said the pair were seated at a table together and she admired his phone case.

He said the pair swapped phone covers. He then presented a red phone cover to the jury.

Crown Prosecutor Alysha Mcclintock asked Ward about the evidence of another female officer who told the jury yesterday that Ward propositioned her the night before the alleged attack, and was later in a female-only cabin talking to the alleged victim.

"I suggest what has happened here is you have turned your intentions from [the witness] to [the alleged victim]," said Mcclintock.

"You have gone to that cabin with sexual intentions and been put off by [the other woman]."

Ward said he could not recall either incident.

"I can't accept it because I don't remember."

He accepted he also could not dispute it.

He said he also could not remember how the sexual encounter started.

"At the critical point when the sexual encounter has already started, suddenly your memory becomes clear. Can you see how that might look a little bit convenient?"

Ward responded: "At no point did she say no, at no point was she struggling, at no point did she tell me to get out of her room."

He said he could not recall details because the event was so long ago.

Open mind

In his opening address this morning, Rogers told the jury that his client did not need to take the stand.

"He doesn't have to do that. He wants you to hear his side of the story. We know from our experience of life that there is always two sides to every story.

"I'm asking you to keep an open mind until the end of the trial."

Rogers told the jury they would also hear from other Navy officers and witnesses who would corroborate Ward's version of events, and who would express differing points of view to the complainant.

Ward has also countered the woman's claims about discrepancies in official log books and navigational records.

The victim alleged that Ward made uninvited and unnecessary contact with her while they carried out their duties.

Ward said that official records showed the pair were never alone together.

The woman said these had not been signed and were therefore not correct, and that there might have been a second copy of such documents that were also used.

Ward disputed this, as he said it would be against Navy protocol to have incorrect or incomplete records.

Ward also said he never apologised to the woman at a party in 2012, as she claims.

He said the pair were seated at a table together and she admired his phone case.

He said the pair swapped phone covers, and he then presented a red phone cover to the jury.

Crown Prosecutor Alysha Mcclintock asked Ward about the evidence of another female officer.

That woman told the jury yesterday that Ward propositioned her the night before the alleged attack, and was later in a female-only cabin talking to the alleged victim.

"I suggest what has happened here is you have turned your intentions from [the witness] to [the alleged victim]," said Mcclintock.

"You have gone to that cabin with sexual intentions ... and been put off by [the other woman]."

Memory

Ward said he could not recall either incidents.

"I can't accept it because I don't remember."

He accepted he also could not dispute it.

He said he also could not remember how the sexual encounter started.

"At the critical point when the sexual encounter has already started, suddenly your memory becomes clear. Can you see how that might look a little bit convenient?"

Ward responded: "At no point did she say no, at no point was she struggling, at no point did she tell me to get out of her room."

He said he could not recall the details because the event was so long ago.

A witness has told the jury that it would not make sense to have multiple log books on a Navy ship.

The man, who also cannot be named, gave evidence this afternoon.

He is an experienced Navy officer, but his rank cannot be revealed.

He told the jury that it "would not make sense" for multiple record books to be kept.

The man also said that he remembered the alleged victim as a "normal, average" officer.

"There were [officers] who were worse and there were students who were better," he said.

He acknowledged that there was at least one page of a log book that was missing a signature.

He did not believe that "compromised the integrity" of the log books.

Another witness told the jury that the alleged victim "struggled" with some aspects of her performance in the Navy.

He said that the woman did not deal very well with negative feedback and would become "sullen and moody".

He said he never told her she was a top performing officer, which opposed what she told the jury.

The trial continues.

- NZ Herald

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