Major Thomas Clark has been convicted of battery for slapping a soldier’s bottom
An Army Major has been convicted of battery for slapping a soldier’s bottom so hard it shook ‘quite vigorously’ while he was shaving in a communal shower room.
Warrant Officer Daniel Kelley said he was left so traumatised he has struggled to be intimate with his wife after the incident that happened in July earlier this year at a marina in Poole Harbour, Dorset.
Assistant Judge Advocate General described the incident as a ‘strange offence’ as he reprimanded the 40-year-old Major Clark.
The Major appeared to become emotional and rubbed his eyes as it was heard he was previously a man of good character.
In his victim impact statement, WO2 Kelley said: ‘Immediately following the incident, I became quite withdrawn and did not want to engage with many people.
‘I came into contact with Major Clark a number of times which I found very difficult and emotional. I did my best to ignore what happened and act normally, I found this stressful.
‘The impact of the incident was beyond anything I could have envisaged.
‘I found myself withdrawn from my wife both emotionally and romantically.
‘I felt embarrassed and did not want to be intimate with my wife, which I have found very difficult to deal with.
‘Since 2011 I have been a keen sailor representing the Corps and Army, since the incident I have not had any involvement with Corps or Army sailing.
‘Poole is where my parents-in-law live and where my wife and I sail from. I often have to pass the ablutions at the marina where the incident happened and it causes me great anxiety.
Bulford Court Martial Centre, Wiltshire, heard how the incident took place in July at a communal shower room in Poole Harbour, Dorset
‘I fear these memories are something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
‘I am angry that Maj Clark clearly thought his behaviour was acceptable. Here is a commissioned officer who is supposed to represent everything we stand for as an organisation.
‘A commissioned officer who is supposed to be beyond question in terms of behaviour and conduct.
‘To this day I am still struggling to make peace with Maj Clark slapping my backside and why he thought it was acceptable. The whole situation left me feeling betrayed.’
He added: ‘The incident became a tipping point for some quite dark times… I was diagnosed with and treated for depression.’
He said that he later told Lieutenant Diana Pitts about the contact. Lieutenant Pitts, who was taking over running the sailing exercise from Major Clark, said today: ‘WO2 Kelley was really upset.
‘I was not sure how to react. I trivialised it at first but I realised that he was really not in a good place about it.’
Judge Large said: ‘This was in any view a strange offence. The board heard strong character evidence about you, Major Clark, which we accept – this was completely out of character.
‘That type of behaviour was unacceptable by an officer, this has had a significant effect on WO2 Kelley and caused long-lasting problems.’
A board of three Army officers took 90 minutes to convict Major Clark of battery.
Lieutenant Diana Pitts, who was told about the contact at the time, also gave evidence at the court martial
Fiona Edington, defending, said Major Clark has a previously unblemished Army career and medals for operational service.
During the hearing at Bulford Court Martial Centre, Wiltshire, spoke about how he had been taking part in a week-long Army sailing expedition in the Solent at the time of the incident.
Married WO2 Kelley said he was stood topless at a sink and was shaving his face at around 8am when ‘without warning’ Major Thomas Clark approached him from behind.
He said he was ‘absolutely shocked beyond all disbelief’ when Major Clark smacked his left buttock with such force it made it ‘shake quite rigorously’.
He added that the Major, who is also married with two children, then greeted WO2 Kelley by saying ‘alright’ before using a pink plastic floss toothpick to clean his teeth.
WO2 Kelley said that this behaviour was ‘unacceptable’ and ‘flies in the face’ of Army values for his ‘unlawful’ non-consensual slap.
He added: ‘I’ve never been smacked on my bottom before, anyone who knows me will know that it is not acceptable to do to me.
He said that he and Major Clark knew of each other but were not friends.
Following the incident WO2 Kelley said that he was left ‘confused’ and started humming classic swing tune Mack the Knife as he ‘tried to make sense of it’ – before Major Clark started singing along.
Bulford Court Martial Centre, Wiltshire, today heard WO2 ‘quickly’ left and was ‘very emotional’ as he raised the issue with his superior and messaged his wife.
Major Clark, who denies a charge of battery, has claimed that the slap never happened and that he does not ‘indulge in horseplay’.
He added that if there was contact it was by his washbag – accidentally.
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Graham Coombes, prosecuting, told the hearing the slap was ‘unlawful’.
Giving evidence, WO2 Kelley, said: ‘I lathered my face up and I was halfway through my shave when someone struck my backside quite hard. It was my left buttock.
‘I turned around and saw it was Major Clark – he greeted me with ‘alright’.
‘I was absolutely shocked and in disbelief and rather than make a fuss about it I just carried on shaving and started humming Mack the Knife.
‘Major Clark asked me what song it was and then started singing a couple of words of it. After brushing my teeth I left pretty quickly.
‘At the time I felt shocked beyond all disbelief that Major Clark would find it acceptable to behave that way to me as a 6ft3 soldier let alone anyone else.
‘It completely flew in the face of all the reasons why I stand in this uniform and everyone else who wears the uniform, it was completely unacceptable.’
He added: ‘It was a significant strike and even if it was his washbag then it must have been struck at a great force, something I had never experienced before.
‘I’ve never been smacked on my bottom before, anyone who knows me will know that it is not acceptable to do to me.
‘In my mind there’s no way it was not intentional, it was such a significant force that it made my muscle vibrate and that’s why I have struggled to make peace with it.
‘I don’t normally hum when I shave, it was one of the songs that Major Clark was playing before and I wanted some kind of approval or something from him.
‘It was Bobby Darin’s version of Mack the Knife, which is the original I believe.’
WO2 Kelley added: ‘The thing I wanted to do is leave entirely as I didn’t want to be in the same area as Major Clark but if I left the boat would need to find another mate.
‘Rather than making a fuss I spoke to Lieutenant Pitts… I made her pinky promise not to tell anyone.
‘I also told my wife, I was having a difficult time at work and suffered burnout so I didn’t want to over-react.’
One message from WO2 to his wife read ‘do you think I’m making something out of nothing by taking it further?’ and his wife replied ‘if it really bothers you then no’.
Another message from his wife talked about ‘keeping their mitts off your bottom’.
Intelligence specialist Major Clark, of the Army’s Recruiting and Training Division (ARTD), said: ‘There’s no way I would smack somebody’s bottom.
‘It was either made up or mistaken for someone else or my washbag accidentally brushed him.’
Lieutenant Colonel Coombes said: ‘The reason Major Clark can’t explain it is because, although a man of good character, he had a serious lapse of judgement on that morning.
‘It was ill-judged and he is deliberately forgetting it to cover it up.’