Monday 19 February 2018

'Bullying' Army sergeant (45) 'left young cadet pregnant after raping her,' court hears

File photo: Former army sergeant Edwin Mee. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
File photo: Former army sergeant Edwin Mee. Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire

A "bullying" Army recruitment sergeant left a young cadet pregnant after raping her during a campaign of sex abuse against female recruits, a court heard.

Edwin Mee, 45, allegedly carried out sex attacks on 11 victims as young as 15 while working at an Army careers centre.

The Scottish officer established a "pattern of bullying sexual behaviour that was repeated again and again", a jury of seven men and five women at London's Southwark Crown Court heard.

Prosecutors say he had a preference for vulnerable black women born overseas.

One of the women, a virgin in her early 20s, fell pregnant when Mee raped her in a locked waiting room, the court heard.

Doctors found that she had a ruptured ectopic pregnancy for which she was operated on after collapsing in hospital.

When she called Mee to explain what had happened, he allegedly replied "I thought you were safe" and never spoke to her again.

Known as Jock, the divorced father of five is said to have carried out the attacks on women aged from 15 to their early twenties between October 2010 and September 2011.

Mee would stay later at the careers centre and conduct interviews with applicants out of hours to "deliberately" target his alleged victims, the court heard.

He disregarded normal Army interview procedures to keep the complainants to himself and "gauge their vulnerability".

Prosecutor Rosina Cottage QC told the jury that the attacks had been an "abuse of trust and power by this defendant in order to bully and groom young women".

He would speak to the women about sex, touch them and in the most serious instances rape those over whom he had established control, Ms Cottage said.

She added: "A number of the complainants in this case were young black women, born outside the United Kingdom.

"Whether the defendant believed that this gave them a vulnerability in relation to their immigration status, or gave him an excuse to pretend that he had some power over them, the inference that the prosecution say can be drawn is that he deliberately targeted these young women."

The court heard that the process to join the Army consists of three interviews.

First there is a meet and greet, followed by a personal interview with questions about family circumstances, motivation and commitment.

Ms Cottage told the jury: "A third interview should be conducted by a different person from the first two interviews - it is called a confirmation interview.

"This was not a system to which the defendant appears to have adhered.

"Each of the complainants seems to have been kept by the defendant, to himself - every interview, every appointment."

Alleged victims had been left in no doubt that they should to "put up or shut up", Ms Cottage said.

One of the complainants, aged 16 at the time, said Mee had asked to see the piercing in her stomach area the first time they met to discuss her application.

She claimed that later he slapped her bottom and, when she complained, told her: "It's you who needs the Army."

The woman decided not to pursue a career in the Army "because of the defendant's behaviour".

Giving evidence behind a curtain, she told the court that Mee explained during their first meeting that his wife had cheated on him.

The youngest alleged victim was just 15 when she went several times to the recruitment office.

He asked her for a date and tried to kiss her on the lips in a corridor, but she turned away and he "got her on the cheek", the court heard.

Mee, of Tavistock Road, Croydon, south London - dressed in a dark suit with light blue shirt and dark blue tie and with his grey hair tied back in a bun, denies 17 counts of sexual assault, three rapes and one count of assault by penetration.

Giving evidence in court, another of the complainants broke down in tears as she claimed that Mee "made a joke" about her quiff hairstyle during a visit she made to the recruitment centre with her mother.

She explained that during her first meeting with the sergeant, aged when she was around 19, he asked if she would date people of other races because the Army "doesn't stand for racism".

On another visit, her mother told the recruitment officer that she was "worried" about her daughter joining the Armed Forces.

Sobbing, she told the court that Mee had replied jokingly, and added: "He said that I would attract the Taliban with my hair."

Under cross-examination by Lisa Wilding QC, for the defence, she later admitted that the sergeant had joked instead that she would "scare the Taliban off" with her hair.

On a separate occasion, the complainant went to the centre to carry out some physical training, which she admitted struggling with, and Mee asked her into his office.

As she was leaving he allegedly hit her bottom, half way between a tap and a slap.

The witness said: "I was quite shocked, I didn't know what was going on. I just wanted to go and I did."

Later she claimed to have contacted Mee to say that she had decided not to join the Army because of the "physical aspect of it".

She said she did not tell anyone about the smack on the bottom until police sent a letter to her house.

Asked why she had not spoken about the incident with her mother, she said she was "kind of embarrassed".

Afterwards, Ms Wilder told the witness: "I suggest there never was a tap or hit on the bottom as you have described and that is not truthful. Is that possible?"

The witness simply replied: "No."

Press Association

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