Army chaplain had a 'soldier's humour'

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The Independent Online
AN ARMY chaplain accused of harassment and indecent assault was a "soldier's soldier" with an "earthy" sense of humour, a court martial heard today.

Padre Captain Richard Landall, 41, enjoyed bawdy jokes with his colleagues who never took offence, the court martial was told.

On the sixth day of the hearing at Aldershot, Hants, Captain Joseph Strachan told the court: "The padre has got a very keen sense of humour, a soldier's sense of humour, sometimes an earthy sense of humour. But it is one people can relate to straight away.

"I have never spoken to anyone who has ever taken offence at that sense of humour.

"As an example, I think we had been in Bosnia for three weeks and the padre asked me if I had any risque photos of my wife. I said 'No', and he asked me if I wanted any. I laughed because it was funny. I have never been asked anything like that by a padre before. It is a soldier's type of joke.

"We were in a very male environment and people were making jokes like that all the time and he was no exception."

Capt Strachan said that Landall was the most effective military padre he had known in 24 years of army service.

"I have never met anyone who cared so much about the ordinary soldier or who could relate to them coming from a very similar background.

"He has a way of talking to soldiers and to their families that immediately puts them at their ease. He is able to communicate quite complex ideas in very simple language to some people who are not always very educated."

He added that Landall was a direct preacher and people could remember sermons he had delivered two years later.

"He had a way of putting across the religious message in terms that the simplest soldier could understand," he said.

Sergeant David Harris, who served with Landall, said: "I saw the padre as a soldier's soldier and as an approachable man who was familiar with the troops without being too familiar."

Landall denies four counts of indecent assault on a soldier's wife as well as harassing Fusilier Sean Brazier, 26, and harassing his wife Shelly Brazier, 27, while they were stationed in Celle, Germany, between January and November 1997.

The court martial heard that the woman who claimed she was indecently assaulted by Landall allegedly became "boisterous and flirtatious" when she had been drinking.

She and her husband often held boozy parties in the cellar bar of their home in Germany.

At one party she sat on Padre Landall's lap after planting kisses on his bald head, the court heard.

Sergeant Major John Charlton, who lived near the couple in Celle, Germany, said he often had to go to their home to complain about the noise. On one occasion he saw the woman and her husband fighting outside.

The hearing was adjourned until tomorrow.

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