Monday, May 11, 2015

Recruiting sergeant guilty of 13 sex attacks

Edwin Mee, a sergeant in the British Army, was found guilty last week of 13 'sex attacks' (10 Sexual Assaults, 2 rapes and 1common assault) committed whilst serving as a recruiter in Croydon between 2010 and 2011. Importantly Mee was convicted by a jury following a trial in the (civilian) Crown Court rather than by the Court Martial. The jury could not reach a verdict on a further 8 charges and were sent out to continue deliberating.

Despite the clear military nexus in the case, the fact that the victims were civilians engaging with the Army as a potential employer surely makes the Crown Court the correct venue in which to try these offences. Therefore the Royal Military Police (who conducted the initial investigation) are to  be commended for handing the matter over to the Metropolitan Police Service (civilian police for London). Mee was prosecuted by Rosina Cottage QC, an expert in the field of sexual offences and defended by Lisa Wilding QC.

However the downside of handing these matters over to the civilian jurisdiction for trial is that it limits the opportunity for the Military Justice System to develop its own expertise in the very difficult field of sexual offences. Is this approach storing up future problems for the Military Justice System?

When Mee is sentenced the Judge will have extensive sentencing powers and Mee will certainly go to prison. By not being sentenced by the Court Martial there will be less opportunity for the implications on the service to be spelt out and the Judge will lack the power to dismiss Mee. That will now be done administratively.

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