A Royal Navy engineer horrified a fellow sailor by embracing him from behind and kissing his neck ‘passionately’ before pushing him to the bottom, a court-martial heard.
Able seaman Triss Smythe allegedly left a colleague feeling ‘offended and humiliated’ by ‘grinding’ up to him and putting her arms over his shoulders before kissing him.
The 23-year-old, who is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns, was known to use the phrase ‘I’m here and I’m queer’ around the workplace.
The incident left the victim feeling ‘disturbed’ and suffering sleepless nights, the court heard.
The court heard both men had been wearing ‘paper-thin’ summer overalls at the time and the alleged victim, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told the trial the kiss went on ‘for what felt like a lifetime’.
AB Smythe denies one charge of sexual assault involving touching without consent, claiming the kiss was simply ‘hatred’.
Able seaman Triss Smythe allegedly horrified a fellow sailor by hugging him from behind and kissing his neck ‘passionately’
Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, heard Smythe, an Air Engineering Technician, ‘circled’ the back of their colleague in a helicopter hanger at Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton, Somerset.
Prosecutor Rupert Gregory said: ‘[The complainant] worked and while working in the hoop [AB Smythe] came up and put her arms over his shoulders and crossed them over his chest and pushed up against him from behind.
“The complainant says that he felt [AB Smythe] pushing his genitals, penis, up against him from behind.
‘And as he did so he kissed the complainant on his neck in what he described as a quite passionate and sexual manner which lasted for a few seconds.
“The complainant used force to push [AB Smythe] of him and told him “it’s not okay” before he left.
“The fact that he presses himself against the complainant makes it sexual. Not all kisses are sexual, many friends kiss and it’s not sexual – this kiss is different.’
Bulford Military Court (pictured), Wiltshire, heard Smythe, an Air Engineering Technician, ‘circled’ the back of a colleague in a helicopter hanger at Royal Navy Air Station Yeovilton, Somerset
The court was shown a video of the complainant’s police interrogation after reporting the incident through his chain of command.
The sailor, who is gay, said: ‘AB Smythe came up to me and sexually assaulted me in front of my colleagues.
‘I didn’t realize he was approaching. Someone’s arms went over my shoulders and I tried to identify myself by the hands, but I didn’t.
So I glanced over my right shoulder and saw that it was AB Smythe.
‘I said “hey mate how are you?” and carried on talking [a colleague]. I tapped his hands like “okay sweet toasts”.
“But then they pressed up against me. Their penises were pressed against my buttocks.
‘A shock came over me. When it happened, I was like a deer in the headlights’.
The sailor, who is gay, said: ‘AB Smythe came up to me and sexually assaulted me in front of my colleagues.’
The court heard both men were wearing ‘really thin’ summer overalls which, to be more breathable for the wearer, are ‘literally paper thin’.
The sailor continued: ‘It was like one of those dreams where you’re there and you try to scream and nothing comes out.
‘Without saying anything at this point they caressed me really slowly, kissed my neck.
‘He leaned in, I don’t understand why, he reached in and just kissed me on the right side of the neck, really perverted and really slow. It felt like he was booming to make maximum noise and impact.
‘It felt like it lasted a lifetime. It was a two to three second kiss, but it was done in such a passionate, disturbing way – I pushed him [away] with my elbow and thought “what the hell just happened?”.
“I said ‘it’s not okay’ and repeated myself and had to get out of there.
‘I didn’t know what to do, I felt really self-conscious. I was embarrassed, offended, humiliated and confused.
‘I don’t know what I had done to deserve it. Doing it on the neck, for me it’s a really sexual and passionate area. It was unjustified and unprecedented and there is no history between us.’
Under cross-examination in court, the complainant said he had previously thought of AB Smythe as ‘fearless in standing up for who he is’ and knew of Smthe’s ‘I’m here and I’m queer’ mantra.
The alleged victim told the court he had been anxious to leave his room after the incident as he did not want to see AB Smythe and then had to take a week off work due to sleepless nights.
A female sailor who saw the incident told the court AB Smythe had ‘circled’ the man before Smythe put their arms around the sailor’s shoulders and then ‘grabbed him extremely tight – I don’t think you could have got a hand in between them’ .
She added: ‘It looked like AB Smythe was kissing his neck. I saw him doing something very intimate. It was not something I would have done to a colleague. It’s not something you expect at work.’
‘For me it’s an intimate area, I wouldn’t do it to anyone but my partner.’
AB Smythe denies one charge of sexual assault and insists nothing that took place that day was of a sexual nature.
The trial continues.