United Kingdom

'Smirking' Army trooper grabbed the bottoms of two female colleagues, court martial hears

An Army soldier grabbed two female colleagues' bottoms while they were on parade to 'lighten the mood', a court martial heard.

'Smirking' Trooper Phillip Ewart of the Household Cavalry pinched the women within minutes of each other as they stood side by side at Windsor Barracks, it is claimed.

One of the women burst into tears after the incident, which she said left her 'shocked and disgusted', Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard.

When asked to explain squeezing the women's behinds, Tpr Ewart told the court it was just 'banter' and he would have done it to a male colleague as well.

He now faces two charges of sexual assault after being accused of 'degrading' behaviour towards the two soldiers.

The court heard that all three troopers were serving in the training wing of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment when the incident happened.

Trooper Phillip Ewart of the Household Cavalry pinched the women within minutes of each other as they stood side by side at Windsor Barracks

Referred to as 'trusted guardians of the monarch,' the regiment is one of the most senior in the British Army.

The court martial heard the troopers had been called out on Sunday morning parade for an unrelated matter.

But as they lined up, one of Tpr Ewart's alleged victims - who cannot be named for legal reasons - told the court he pinched her.

'I did not feel explicitly comfortable at first but we were on parade so I thought I will deal with the matter afterwards,' she said.

'He shrugged his shoulders when he smirked and then faced the front away from me. A few minutes later he did the exact same thing to (the other trooper).'

His second alleged victim said: 'I felt really shocked and disgusted which is why I directly faced the left and asked what just happened.

'I asked it directly to Trooper Ewart and I said it quite aggressively because of how I felt and no one said anything.

'I was just in shock and so much emotion came over me - I was really overwhelmed - that I just burst out crying.'

A witness, Trooper Monja Danischewsky, told the court Tpr Ewart quipped after the incident that he was 'only trying to lighten the mood'.

The court heard the soldier had later sent the second woman a Whatsapp message after the incident to apologise and explain that he needed to remember he did not work in a male dominated environment.

In court, Tpr Ewart denied groping the women and claimed he had just 'tapped' them.

Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard that all three troopers were serving in the training wing of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment when the incident happened

He told the hearing he thought he had a friendship with both of them which meant it was okay for him to touch their bottoms and that his male colleagues had a 'similar sort of banter.'

The trooper also told the court there was no specific reason for one of the incidents other than 'she was there.'

When asked to explain his behaviour, he said: '(I was) just being an idiot to be honest. It was a joke taken the wrong way.

'It was nothing more than a brief tap and there was no sexual motivation behind it at all.'

He added: 'It was just a wrong time, wrong place, heat of the moment thing. There was no specific reason other than she was there.

'It could have been a male colleague. There was no difference between male and female at all.'

Tpr Ewart went on to say it was due the 'nature of the friendship' he believed he had with both of them that he thought it was okay to grab their bottoms.

He said: 'I would not have dreamt of doing that to someone I had just met five minutes ago.

'I (did it) as (I would) with my male colleagues mucking around and having the same kind of banter.'

Prosecuting, Sol Hartley challenged Tpr Ewart on his claim that he did it for a joke.

'If this was just for amusement you could have tapped them on the back or on the shoulder couldn't have you?' he asked.

'You could have flicked their ear but you did not flick their ear you grabbed their buttocks and you did that because it was sexual and degrading for those two didn't you?'

Tpr Ewart denies two charges of sexual assault.

The trial continues.

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