Saturday 16 December 2017

Soldier 'can now remember assault by sergeant after therapy', court told

Cpl McShane said he did not see who hit him, but that the memory came back to him after sessions with a psychologist. Stock Photo
Cpl McShane said he did not see who hit him, but that the memory came back to him after sessions with a psychologist. Stock Photo

Louise Roseingrave

A Military court will today begin its deliberations into an allegation that a soldier assaulted a colleague while both were serving overseas.

Sgt Martin Dougan is accused of assaulting Corporal Niall McShane on March 9, 2014, while both men were serving with the Irish Defence Forces in Lebanon.

The alleged incident took place while Cpl McShane and four other colleagues were on an overnight recreational visit to the city of Naqoura, in southern Lebanon.

They met Sgt Dougan and others at a pub on the night of March 8, 2014. The alleged assault then happened in the pub in the early hours of the morning, and Cpl McShane was found outside the pub several hours later by a civilian.

Sgt Dougan has pleaded not guilty to the charges, the court martial sitting at the Military Justice Centre in McKee Barracks, Dublin, heard.

In March 2015, a year after the incident, Cpl McShane made the complaint against Sgt Dougan.

Commandant Gerard Rigney told the military court yesterday that on September 24, 2015, he conducted an investigation into the alleged assault.

Comdt Rigney added that Cpl McShane said he did not see who hit him in the early morning of March 9, 2014, but that the memory came back to him after attending sessions with a Defence Forces psychologist.

Comdt Rigney said he asked Cpl McShane whether the sessions with the psychologist helped him recover his memory and Cpl McShane replied: "I don't know. Maybe subconsciously."

When asked who struck him, Cpl McShane said he was "100pc" certain Sgt Dougan was the one who struck him, Comdt Rigney said. In his closing remarks, the prosecution told the board of officers that Cpl McShane didn't make the complaint against Sgt Dougan until a year after the alleged assault.

"He never said he remembered a year later. He said he made a statement a year later," he said.

Doubt

But Sgt Dougan's defence team said there were "gaps" in the prosecution's story.

The defence said it was natural to have sympathy for Cpl McShane.

"Cpl McShane was injured and we naturally have sympathy for Cpl McShane being injured," he said.

"[But] there's plenty of doubt about the whole matter - not that Cpl McShane was injured but that he was assaulted by Sgt Dougan."

Sgt Dougan previously faced a charge that he was under the influence of an intoxicant on the day of the alleged assault. However, the military judge, Colonel Michael Campion, threw this charge out due to lack of evidence.

The board will begin deliberations today.

Irish Independent

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