An Army colonel faces being kicked out of the military after today being found guilty of sexually assaulting a female officer during an all ranks do in a hotel ski chalet in Dombås, Norway.
Col Martin Toney showed no emotion as the verdict was returned by a jury panel of Top Brass following a two-day court martial.
Military jurors took little over an hour to find the 57-year-old colonel guilty of sexual assault on the former Major nine years ago.
Col Martin Toney, 57, showed no emotion as the verdict was returned by a jury panel of Top Brass following a two-day court martial
Judge Edward Legard, who will sentence in consultation with the jury panel, said he was considering ‘all options’, including the Colonel’s dismissal from the service after 36 years.
Other options include a community order involving unpaid work, which would require a full probation report since the Colonel has been found guiltily of a sexual offence.
The hearing at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire was adjourned until 10am tomorrow, when the judge and panel will decide whether the colonel should be fired.
He may be sentenced tomorrow if the panel agree he should be dismissed.
If they decide unpaid work is an option, the probation report will be needed and sentence will be adjourned, probably until at least January next year.
Col Toney left court frowning and being consoled by a woman believed to be his wife.
On the first day of the hearing, the female officer told the court martial of her horror when a Colonel ‘ordered’ her to give him a goodnight kiss and then rubbed her backside in a room full of other ranks.
The woman claimed the assault happened during the final evening of the Army Medical Service’s Nordic Ski Championships in Norway in December 2012.
She has accused her former boss, Colonel Martin Toney, of sexual assault in a function room at the hotel in the ski resort of Dombås, when Col Toney was a lieutenant colonel.
Challenged about her memories of what happened with Col Toney, who has 36 years’ service in the British Army, she retorted: ‘I will always remember the feel of his hand upon me.’
The hearing at Catterick Garrison, North Yorkshire (pictured in a file photo) was adjourned until 10am tomorrow
Earlier in the afternoon today, Prosecutor Rupert Gregory said in his closing speech to the jury: ‘If ever there was an illustration of the pervasive problem of sexual assault in our society it is here now in this court room.
‘It is because grabbing the female officer’s buttocks and moving to kiss her on the lips was not even memorable for the defendant.
‘It meant nothing to him.
‘But for her, the victim, it is absolutely devastating.
‘She will always remember the feel of his hand on her. It is not something that goes away.
‘It is not the act. It is that she was humiliated and demeaned in a room full of people.
‘No doubt, she has spent years thinking about this and how it affected her.
‘She has not gone down the route of Tweeting or going on Facebook. She made a complaint to police and sat in court giving evidence.
‘She has not got it in for the Army. She is not trying to cause trouble. She loves the Army – her words.
‘This is an important senior officer that can be relied upon when you consider her evidence. It is not about being woke.
‘It is simply someone saying they want to do their job, I am good at my job, and should not have to be treated this way.’
Defending barrister David Richards argued in his closing address: ‘The reality is that no one remembers anything.
‘You are down to one person’s word against another. Notwithstanding that, no one else said or did anything at the time in a room full of junior soldiers.
‘Maybe, people do turn a blind eye but that does not add to the evidence. You have to be sure there was a touching of her bottom and it was sexual.
‘The first thing she said (about the kiss) was that it was stated as an order. It was 2012 – a long time ago from now. But it was not 1912.’
He added that what happened ‘was a very short sequence of events’ and the woman’s account of it had been ‘polished’ over the years, been discussed in the light of the #MeToo movement, and ‘growing over the years’.
The woman claimed the assault happened during the final evening of the Army Medical Service’s Nordic Ski Championships in Norway in December 2012. Pictured, a file photo of ski equipment
The court martial heard that the alleged incident happened during a drinks party after an all-ranks meal of Scandinavian delicacies to round off the ski training camp.
He added: ‘There is not enough evidence to convict this decorated officer for this serious criminal offence. It is not about problems in society.’
The former major, who cannot be named, claims she was ‘completely sober’ during the festivities because alcohol was very expensive and not many people were drinking.
After an hour or so she said wanted ‘to politely leave to go and pack’ and Col Toney, sitting alone in a conference chair, was the most senior officer in the room, if not the only other officer.
She said: ‘So out of politeness I went to say goodbye to him. He said “Give me a kiss goodbye”. I felt completely flummoxed by that.
‘We did not have the type of relationship where I would give him a kiss goodbye. It was very much phrased as a command.
‘I thought it would be rude not to so I bent over to give him a cheek-to-cheek kiss goodbye. But he turned and met it.
‘He then put his hand on my bottom and rubbed it all over with a fair amount of force. It was not a fleeting touch. This was a thorough feel of my bottom.’
She was wearing a knitted cotton Nordic style black and white dress which was warm but ‘not that thick’.
She continued: ‘It felt like it went on for a long time. It was only 10 to 15 seconds. But it felt like at least a minute. He thoroughly groped my bottom.’
She felt his hand ‘moving in a fairly leisurely fashion’. ‘I was just frozen during this,’ she added.
‘I felt so humiliated. I just wanted to get out of the room as quickly as possible.
‘I felt humiliated, degraded, and confused. I would normally tell someone to f**k off. But I can’t tell him to f**k off because he is a senior officer.
‘He had decades of military experience. I am not some naïve 18-year-old. It is not the first time I have had inappropriate sexual contact – but it was the only time with a senior officer.’
She had experienced ‘mess high jinks’ but this was different – partly because it happened in a room full of more junior soldiers which made it ‘a lot worse’.
She added: ‘My rank meant nothing because it was fine to treat me as an object.’
Col Toney was a lieutenant colonel when at the ski resort of Dombås, Norway, pictured (file photo)
She was also in a relationship at the time and did not want anyone to think she was cheating on her partner.
After she told a female colleague what happened Col Toney was interviewed by police under caution but denied anything untoward had happened at all.
Defending barrister David Richards told his alleged victim during cross-examination: ‘You knew a lieutenant colonel could not order you to give him a kiss.’
She replied: ‘It felt like an order. He thought he had a right to touch me because he was more senior than me. That is what happened.’
Giving evidence on Monday, Col Toney denied the alleged incident at the Trolltun Hotel ever happened.
He was the senior officer at the adventure training camp and the director of the exercise, where 64 recruits were involved in two weeks of cross-country skiing.
He said he had attended the event for 12 years and could not recall any of the final dinners ending on a ‘sour’ note, which he would remember as they were always ‘jolly occasions’.
He said: ‘It did not happen. It is not something I would do. I do not know why she is saying it. I did not do it.’