Soldier who claimed he was under influence of Lariam guilty of sex assault

Defence for army private said he was suffering side affects of anti-malaria drug

An army private who had claimed he was suffering side effects of the anti-malaria drug Lariam when he sexually assaulted a female colleague has been convicted by a court martial.

The defendant who cannot be identified by direction of the court martial judge Col Michael Campion, was also convicted on two counts of behaviour prejudicial to good order and discipline in the defence forces.

The verdicts were brought in by a four-member military board which had heard evidence in the case over eight days. The judge said the defendant will be sentenced after a pre-sentence hearing which he set for Thursday next, June 19.

Col Campion asked prosecuting counsel Fintan McCarthy to ascertain the views of the victim of the assault in relation to identification of the soldier, and to report her views to the pre-sentence hearing. Over the course of the court martial sitting in McKee Barracks in Dublin evidence was heard the accused had been on 24-hour duty with a female colleague and their supervising corporal when the assault took place.


The court heard that after the three retired to separate beds in the same room as was permitted, the accused stripped down to his boxers, which was not allowed as the three were supposed to be in a state of readiness to mobilise. The prosecution argued the accused had moved “cat like” and in the dark to his colleague’s bed and crouching down had begun rubbing her left buttock.

Both defence and prosecution agreed the victim had jumped up, turned on the light and loudly remonstrated with the accused for touching her.

The defence had claimed the accused could not remember the alleged sexual assault and could only remember standing in the room in his boxer shots, near the woman's bed when the light come on. He had claimed he was confused and shocked. The defence had said the conduct of the accused was attributable to Lariam, and having claimed this, defence counsel Gareth Humphreys said it was up to the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt the actions were not due to Lariam.

The accused was found guilty on the charge of sexual assault under section 169 of the Defence Act 1954, and its civilian counterpart the Criminal Law Rape Amendment Act 1990. The two counts of behaviour prejudicial to good order and discipline were military statutes under Section 168 of the Defence Act 1954.

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien

Tim O'Brien is an Irish Times journalist