Army officer dismissed from Defence Forces for sexual assault of female soldier

Military judge says man paying high price for ‘one-off lapse’ while drunk at McKee Barracks

An Army officer who sexually assaulted a female soldier at a military barracks in Dublin three years ago has been dismissed from the Defence Forces by a military court.

Military judge Col Michael Campion said the serious nature of the officer’s offending was “incompatible with continued service” and constituted “an egregious breach of the ethos of [military] service”.

However, he suspended a sentence of six months in custody for the offence for a period of 12 months on condition that the officer bound himself to keep the peace.

While the nature of the sexual assault might be regarded at the lower end of the scale, the judge said it had to be regarded as “far more serious” in the context of military service, especially involving a senior ranking member of the Defence Forces.


Addressing the officer, Col Campion said it was “a high price to pay for a one-off lapse”.

The officer, who cannot be named by order of the judge, was found guilty by a General Court Martial last October of sexually assaulting a female non-commissioned officer (NCO) following a social function at McKee Barracks in Dublin on June 25th, 2020.

The court heard he moved his open palms up and down the victim’s back while saying “come on, come on” while they were in the officers’ mess. A military board of seven senior-ranking Defence Forces personnel also found the officer guilty of assaulting the same NCO on the same occasion by moving towards her in a manner which led her to believe she was going to be assaulted.

The court heard the officer had been brought to the mess by two female NCOs after being found asleep in a drunken state outside a gymnasium, while dressed in uniform, following a barbeque on the base which occurred at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

All the offences occurred during a 30-minute period before midnight following an event organised by the military’s Joint Task Force, which provided assistance to the health authorities during the pandemic.

The officer was found not guilty of three other charges of sexual assault involving the two NCOs and not guilty of a separate charge of assaulting the second female solider.

At a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, the judge noted that the accused had no memory of the event of the night due to his level of intoxication. He said it was unlikely the offences would have been committed if the officer had not been under the influence of alcohol. He also doubted if some of the offences would have happened if the soldiers who helped him were male.

He granted an application by the officer’s counsel, Feargal Kavanagh SC, that his name should not be published pending an appeal to the Court of Appeal, which must be submitted within 21 days.