A high-ranking officer was today dismissed from the Army for sexually assaulting a colleague's 'vulnerable' wife by squeezing her bottom while she was at hospital with her severely injured son.
Lieutenant Colonel Gordon Edwards was standing in a queue at the hospital's coffee shop when he 'tried his luck' because he thought he could 'get away with a quick grope'.
The respected officer, 59, ran his hand down her back, then 'over her left buttock, and squeezed her right buttock' at Bristol Children's Hospital.
Today he was told his 'dismissal was unavoidable' for his 'frankly disgraceful and inexplicable' actions towards another officer's wife.
The victim, who had been friends with Lt Col Edwards due to her husband's working relationship with him, told a court martial he attacked her when she was 'at her most vulnerable'.
Lt Col Gordon Edwards, 59, was today dismissed from the Army for sexually assaulting a colleague's 'vulnerable' wife by squeezing her bottom while she was at Bristol Children's Hospital (file image) with her severely injured son. Lt Col Edwards was in a queue at the hospital's coffee shop when he 'tried his luck' because he thought he could 'get away with a quick grope'
At the sentencing today she told the court she was still unable to 'get her head around' the 'circumstances and environment' in which the assault took place.
She previously said she was stunned 'someone of that stature' would molest her while her husband was upstairs by the bedside of their critically ill son, who had been in an accident.
At the end of his three-day trial at Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, Lt Col Edwards was convicted of one count of sexual assault by a panel of five officers.
As his sentence was read out, Lt Col Edwards, supported by his partner of six years, Beverley Limbrick, remained emotionless.
In a brief statement, read to court, his victim, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said: 'The past 24 months have been a rollercoaster both emotionally and mentally.
'I have been prescribed anti-depressants and have anxiety since the assault.
'I still can't get my head around the circumstance and environment in which it happened.'
Prosecutor William Peters previously told the trial: 'The prosecution's case here is all about the defendant taking a liberty with the wife of a colleague by intentionally squeezing her buttock in highly inappropriate circumstances.
At the sentencing today, the victim told Bulford Military Court (above), in Wiltshire, that she was still unable to 'get her head around' the 'circumstances and environment' in which the assault took place. At the end of his three-day trial, Lt Col Edwards was convicted of one count of sexual assault by a panel of five officers
'While queuing [for coffee], Lt Col Edwards took that liberty. While standing side by side, he ran his palm across the small of her back, over her left buttock, and squeezed her right buttock.
'Feeling shocked and angry, she took a pace away from him. They went back to the ward and when the opportunity arose she told her husband what had happened.
'When Lt Col Edwards came back, [the husband] asked him what he thought he was up to. Lt Col Edwards brushed it off and said, "Sorry mate, I didn't mean to do it".'
The incident caused 'tension' between Lt Col Edwards and the husband at work, and months later the husband directed two 'outbursts' towards him.
Her husband admitted in court he 'chickened out' of reporting the incident within the Army and his wife, who said he '100 per cent let me down' by failing to do so, ended up reporting it herself five months after.
Lt Col Edwards claimed the grope never happened and argued the wife only reported it as her husband faced losing his job due to an investigation into his outbursts.
Sentencing today, Assistant Judge Advocate General Robert Hill said: 'This was an inexplicable aberration and you were until then a man of good character.
'Inevitably it has placed a great deal of strain on her and her husband.
'It caused a lot of heartache, friction, bad feeling and stress. The fact you were the rank you were is an aggravating feature.
'[Her son] had come out of intensive care that day. [She] could not have been at a lower ebb, more vulnerable, more in need.'
He added that the fact Lt Col Edwards had apologised to her husband, but not her, while she was also present simply 'added insult to injury'.
He continued: 'It is frankly disgraceful behaviour of someone in your position towards someone in such a vulnerable state of affairs. Dismissal is unavoidable.'
Lt Col Edwards was described by his barrister in mitigation as an 'exemplary officer' who had over 30 years' service in the military.
Lt Col Edwards, of the Defence School of Electronic and Mechanical Engineering at MoD Lyneham, Wiltshire, was dismissed from the Armed Forces and told he must do 60 hours of unpaid work as part of a community service order.