Wife tells of fondling by army chaplain

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AN ARMY chaplain fondled a soldier's wife as she sat on a sofa holding a friend's baby, a court martial was told yesterday.

Captain Richard Landall, 41, also pressed himself against her as she bathed three children, and molested her when she had a child sitting on her knee, a 24-year-old woman told the court.

Describing the first of a series of alleged assaults, the woman, who cannot be named for legal reasons, said: "The padre made general chat about nothing in particular and then he put his arm around me. He did not say anything.

"His hand went inside my sweater ... his hand was underneath my crop- top. She continued: "I rushed out saying I was going to change the baby to get myself away from him."

The following day Capt Landall, a Bosnia veteran, called at the woman's house with a bunch of flowers and a card, the court martial, at Tidworth, Wiltshire, heard. It read: "Thank you for being there for me. Sorry about my behaviour last night. Too much to drink."

Capt Landall, Chaplain to the 2nd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, denies four charges of indecently assaulting the woman and an alternative charge of harassing her. The alleged assaults are said to have taken place over a five-day period in November last year, at Celle, Germany.

Describing another assault, the woman told the court that Capt Landall indecently assaulted her as she bathed three children at her friend's house, and on another occasion while she had a child on her knee.

Cross-examined by Alison Barker, counsel for the defence, the woman denied that she had been drinking heavily before one of the alleged assaults and had sat on the chaplain's lap before kissing the bald patch on his head. The defence accused her of lying with her "scandalous" allegations in a bid to save her failing marriage and to win sympathy.

The hearing continues.