Hannah Clayton
Hannah Clayton

Assault charges dismissed against female sailor

A DEFENCE magistrate has found a bum slap and a nipple cripple are acceptable forms of "horseplay" between "skylarking" sailors.

The ruling came as Able Seaman Hannah Clayton was found not guilty of two charges of assault yesterday, after a three-day Defence trial in Sydney.

 

Able Seaman Hannah Clayton arriving at the Defence Plaza for her trial. Picture: Tim Hunter
Able Seaman Hannah Clayton arriving at the Defence Plaza for her trial. Picture: Tim Hunter

Defence Magistrate Wing Commander Joana Fuller found there was not enough evidence to prove Clayton had slapped Seaman Jarrad Pluckrose's bottom and pinched his nipple while they were at category training at HMAS Cerberus in October 2017.

The magistrate said the bum slap was most likely an accident, while she did not believe the nipple tweaking occurred. Even if the events had happened, she said, it would have been part of accepted "horseplay" between the pair.

"I reject the evidence of Seaman Pluckrose that the accused pinched him on the nipple," the magistrate said.

"Although balanced against this was that the nipple pinching fell in the category of 'horseplay'."

 

Seaman Jarrad Pluckrose (left) and Seaman Connor Coleman. Picture: Facebook
Seaman Jarrad Pluckrose (left) and Seaman Connor Coleman. Picture: Facebook

Regarding the bum slap, the magistrate said: "I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt that she slapped Seaman Pluckrose's bottom, but I pause to note even if I had found she did, I would have found the prosecution were unable to prove that Seaman Pluckrose did not consent to reasonable force.

"There is an overwhelming body of evidence that physical bodily contact was accepted (by the sailors during horseplay) and there was implied consent for this form of touching."

Wing Commander Fuller said all sailors gave evidence that there was daily "skylarking, horseplay and shenanigans" between them.

She said the evidence from Seaman Pluckrose and Seaman Connor Coleman wasn't convincing because they were motivated by retribution against Clayton.

"Seaman Pluckrose had a motive for embellishing his complaint in order to redress what he believed was an unfair complaint against his conduct," she said. "I note Seaman Coleman denied a variety of conduct that other witnesses said he engaged in."

Evidence from more than one sailor revealed the pair would ask Clayton to call them "daddy". Seaman Coleman would also pull Clayton's hair and tap her on the head, the court heard.

 



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