Nova Scotia

British sailors accused in Halifax gang rape photographed assault: court documents

A woman, whom four members of Britain's Royal Navy are accused of sexually assaulting, told a police investigator she fell unconscious following a night of drinking at military barracks near Halifax and woke up to find she was being raped while photos were snapped, CBC News has learned.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details

Four British sailors are accused of sexually assaulting a woman while they were in Halifax to play in a hockey tournament against Canadian teams. (Facebook)

A woman, whom four members of Britain's Royal Navy are accused of sexually assaulting, told a police investigator she fell unconscious following a night of drinking at military barracks near Halifax and woke up to find she was being raped while photos were snapped, CBC News has learned.

The four sailors were in Nova Scotia in April for a hockey tournament and have been charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm and sexual assault committed with one or more person.

The men — Simon Radford, Joshua Finbow, Craig Stoner and Darren Smalley — are free on bail and living at a British military base in Alberta. Their preliminary inquiry is set for next April and they have not yet entered pleas.

The Crown attorney handling the prosecution has said they are accused of a "group sexual assault," but little else has been revealed about the case, until now.

A document that military police used to obtain a warrant for DNA samples from the four accused reveals new details about the case, including what the alleged victim and witnesses told police. Investigators want to compare the samples to DNA found on the woman.

The court document also contains summaries of statements made by two of the accused sailors, including one who says there was oral sex and other sexual activity with the woman, but that everything was consensual.

The allegations have not been proven in court.

'Felt extremely fatigued'

On April 10, the woman went to her family doctor and told her she'd been sexually assaulted the night before, according to the court document used to obtain the warrant. The doctor took the woman to the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, where she was examined.

That examination found signs of forced intercourse and bruises on the woman's groin, left shoulder and left inner knee, according to the court documents.

The next day, the woman was interviewed by a military police officer, Master Cpl. Tyler Bruce-Hayes, who serves in a major crime unit called the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service.

The woman told police she'd gone to a hockey game at 12 Wing Shearwater with a friend who was meeting one of the players there. Afterward, they headed to the barracks and drank.

The alleged victim told police that she and her friend decided to stay the night because they'd had too much to drink; the friend went to another room with one of the players.

The woman said she "felt extremely fatigued" and lay down, fully clothed, on a bed before falling unconscious, according to the court document.

'Pulled a white bed linen over her body'

"She woke up fully unclothed face down in the bed, and remembered unidentified male silhouettes surrounding her, forcing non-consensual unprotected vaginal intercourse and non-consensual oral intercourse," says a summary of the woman's statement to police.

"She went unconscious again, later awaking to continued non-consensual forced vaginal intercourse followed by sounds of laughter and remembered light flashing from what she believes could be a camera. 

"She went into unconsciousness for a third time.… She subsequently pulled a white bed linen over her body, lying motionless pretending to be asleep as she thought it best to do so to prevent further harm from coming to her."

Her friend eventually came into the room and turned the lights on, later telling police the woman was upset and crying.

The men were told to leave and the friend collected the woman's clothes, which were "scattered throughout the room," and took her home.

Military police also interviewed witnesses. Several said the alleged victim was flirty earlier in the evening and was overheard suggesting she wanted to have sex with the hockey team.

One of the witnesses told military police he'd opened the door of the room to tell those inside to quiet down and heard the alleged victim say "words to the effect, 'You are jealous you're not having sex.'"

'Come on all, do what you want'

Two of the sailors, Radford and Finbow, spoke with military police. Stoner and Smalley did not, after being advised not to say anything by their lawyers.

Radford told police that at the end of the evening the woman got into his bed, tried to kiss him and put her hand down his shorts. He said he declined, got out of bed and moved to another.

"Mr. Smalley, Mr. Finbow and Mr. Stoner proceeded to move towards Mr. Radford's bed," according to a summary of Radford's statement to police.

"Mr. Radford stated he didn't see much but things did happen between them, and two pictures were taken. Mr. Radford heard sexual moans and groans and Mr. Smalley was being rough. [The woman] never said no."

Police say Finbow stated to investigators that after the woman got into Radford's bed, she told the rest of the men in the room to "come on all, do what you want."

'I feel really apologetic'

At one point, Smalley took two photographs. The woman turned her head away from the flash, Finbow said.

In the documents, Finbow described the woman's level of impairment as a "five out of 10" and that no one was "wasted" or taking any drugs. He said what happened was "100 per cent consensual" and there was "no doubt in my mind" that was the case, the documents say.

"Mr. Finbow stated that [the woman] was 'quite silent' … adding he would have stopped if [the woman] would have said stop. Mr. Finbow added that 'obviously she wanted it' adding [she] 'invited us into it,'" the court document says.

However, about 10 minutes after they returned to their beds, the woman was "sobbing" as her friend came into the room.

"Mr. Finbow added that during his version of events [the woman] was making 'normal sex noises.' Mr. Finbow states, 'I feel like I'm not in the wrong,' 'I feel really apologetic,' and 'I feel bad.'