Soldier discharged and jailed over sexual assault

Military court rejected private’s defence that assault was a result of taking Lariam

Mosquito: defendent claimed anti-malaria drug Larium led to the abuse.

Mosquito: defendent claimed anti-malaria drug Larium led to the abuse.

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 01:00

A soldier who claimed he was suffering from the side effects from the anti-malaria drug Lariam when he sexually assaulted a female colleague, has been discharged from the Defence Forces, sentenced to seven days in prison and fined €400.

Army court martial judge Col Michael Campion also imposed “a very severe reprimand” and lifted reporting restrictions allowing the perpetrator to be named as private Barry Kingham of Dundalk.

Pte Kingham was convicted last month on one count of sexual assault on a female colleague, and two counts of behaviour prejudicial to good order and discipline.

The offences took place when Pte Kingham was on 24-hour duty with his victim and their supervising corporal at Gormanston Camp, Co Meath, in May 2010.

Discharging Pte Kingham from the Defence Forces in respect of the sexual assault, Col Campion told Pte Kingham it was necessary to “lay down a marker that behaviour like yours cannot be tolerated”.

‘Breach of discipline’

Col Campion said military personnel needed to trust and depend on one another and the assault represented “a very serious breach of military discipline”.

He said the first count of a breach of good order and discipline, that the accused had “entered the bedspace” of his victim, was “a serious breach of discipline” and he imposed a custodial sentence of seven days detention and a fine of €300.

Col Campion said the second count of a breach of good order and discipline, that Pte Kingham had stripped down to his boxers while on duty, was the least serious charge but still a serious breach of military discipline.

Colleagues were depending on Pte Kingham to maintain a state of readiness to go on active duty, said Col Campion, and he imposed a “very serious reprimand” and a fine of €100.

The colonel also said he did not accept the defence argument that Pte Kingham’s use of the anti-malaria drug Lariam on overseas trips, particularly to Chad in 2009, was a mitigating factor.

Nightmares

Col Campion said a claim by Pte Kingham that the first he knew of the assault was when he found himself standing in his boxer shorts in a room as the light was switched on, with his victim shouting at him, was “self serving”, it was “not credible” and “did no service to you”.

Pte Kingham had shown “no indication of genuine insight or remorse” and, notwithstanding an immediate apology to his victim, had continued to maintain he did not know what had happened, “suggesting he has not engaged with the reality of his conduct on the night”, Col Campion said.

Defence counsel Gareth Humphreys said he would take instructions on the subject of an appeal.

During eight days of evidence Pte Kingham maintained that he had suffered depression and nightmares after returning from Chad in 2009 where he had been prescribed the anti-malaria drug Lariam.

Expert evidence was given by Dr Ashley Croft, a former adviser to the British military in tropical medicine and infectious diseases, that Lariam has been linked to symptoms of sleep loss, nightmares, forgetfulness and psychotic behaviour.

However another British military adviser, Dr Ronald H Behrens, introduced by prosecuting counsel Comdt Fintan McCarthy, said Lariam had no long-term effects and would not have been a contributory factor in the alleged assault.