Soldier's wife `was groped by chaplain'

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AN ARMY chaplain touched a soldier's wife's breast before asking her to make love to him, a court martial was told yesterday.

Captain Richard Landall put his hands down her knickers as she was changing a video for her daughter and tried to kiss her on the lips. The 41-year- old chaplain had also made saucy remarks to another soldier's wife, wolf whistling at her and shouting "Phwooar" from his car window as he drove past.

The court martial in Tidworth, Wiltshire, heard that Capt Landall was "a flirt" and found it difficult to control his amorous nature.

The chaplain to the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers denies four charges of indecently assaulting a soldier's wife and an alternative of harassing her, as well as harassing Fusilier Sean Brazier, harassing Shelly Brazier and conduct to the prejudice of good order by undue familiarity to Shelly Brazier. The alleged incidents took place during 1997 at Celle, Germany.

Lieutenant-Colonel Roger Lewis, prosecuting, told the hearing how Landall visited a soldier's wife who had sought counselling from him over marriage difficulties. He made "improper remarks" about her appearance, telling her: "I could fancy you."

A few days later Landall went with the couple to visit their neighbours for a drink. Lt-Col Lewis said: "During the evening the woman had her neighbour's infant daughter sat on her knee. The padre sat next to her... [he] put his arm around her waist, under her jumper and squeezed her breast."

The hearing was told that, as he was fondling her, Landall asked her to make love to him before he left Germany.

The following day he sent her flowers and a note reading: "Thank you for being there for me. Sorry about my behaviour last night - too much to drink."

Just days later, Landall turned up at the woman's house as she was bathing three children, Lt-Col Lewis said. "The padre went into the bathroom to join her and stood right up behind her, rubbing his groin against her posterior."

On another occasion Landall put his hand down the back of the woman's jogging trousers as she was kneeling down to change a video for her daughter. He then kissed her on the lips as he was leaving the house.

The hearing heard that Landall also showed a keen interest in Shelly Brazier, 27, the wife of a fusilier. Landall apologised in a type-written letter, saying: "I'm sorry for causing you any offence and embarrassment... Unfortunately I'm a flirt and have been all my life. I know I will have to curb and control my flirting ... or I will be in deep trouble."

Mrs Brazier denied suggestions by defence counsel Alison Barker that she had turned an innocent friendship into something more smutty.

The hearing continues.

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