Navy Officer Assaulted Ex-Girlfriend
A Royal Navy officer has been fined and given a restraining order for assaulting his ex-girlfriend and harassing her by sending her dozens of messages over Facebook and a dating website.
Lieutenant Douglas Styles pleaded guilty at Portsmouth Naval Base Court Martial Centre to a charge of assault by beating and a charge of harassment.
The 29-year-old was fined a total of £1,200, ordered to pay £750 compensation and was given a restraining order not to contact his ex-girlfriend, Air Engineering Technician Alison Spowart, for 12 months.
Sentencing him, Judge Advocate Alistair McGrigor said:
''Your behaviour was persistent and intentionally annoying and caused Ms Spowart obvious distress.''
The court heard Styles and AET Spowart, who had met through the uniformdating.com website, had split in early 2010.
Both had continued an on-off relationship through that year although they had both begun to see other people, the court heard.
On September 24, 2010, AET Spowart had invited Styles to her home for dinner so she could confirm with him that their relationship was over.
But Styles reacted angrily and became abusive towards her.
Lieutenant Commander David Goddard, prosecuting, described how the defendant grabbed her and pulled her to the ground where he restrained her by sitting on her until her limbs began to lose feeling.
He said: ''He was extremely angry, shouting at her and insulting her with considerable venom.''
In the following months, Styles, a submarine engineer, only contacted AET Spowart to send his regards for her birthday and at Christmas.
But then on January 11, 2011, he phoned her 31 times and a further 16 times the next day in an attempt to persuade her to meet him.
Eventually she answered his call and agreed to meet him for a drink on January 15.
During that evening he placed his hand on her leg, put his arm around her and tried to kiss her despite her protestations.
She ended the evening by running away from him to catch a taxi, the court heard.
He followed this meeting by trying to call her 87 times that night and a further eight times the next day.
On January 17, he sent her a message on Facebook saying: ''I am just doing it to irritate you because you're ignoring me.''
AET Spowart then made a complaint to her superiors and Styles, based at HMS Sultan training base at Gosport, was told not to contact her again.
But a few days later, he sent her a message through the uniformdating website saying he was sorry that she had made a complaint against him.
And between April 6 and May 28, he sent her a further 76 messages and emoticons through the website.
These included one saying: ''I see you tried to block me on Facebook, that's rather pathetic,'' and another which read: ''Stop being pathetic and start making polite conversation.''
After AET Spowart made another complaint, a police investigation was launched and Styles stopped sending messages to her, the court heard.
In a victim impact statement read to the court, AET Spowart said she had become ''twitchy and uncomfortable'' in case she bumped into Styles.
The 32-year-old said she was frightened to go jogging alone, which had affected her fitness.
AET Spowart, who is now based at RNAS Yeovilton, Somerset, said the stress of the case had made it difficult for her to study and had affected her ability to gain promotion.
She said: ''I have been left frightened and afraid even in my own home.
''The thought he could even contact me again frightens me and freaks me out.''
Commander Joe Turner, defending, said Styles had expressed his ''sincere remorse'' and had acted out of a state of naivety and immaturity.
He added that his client was now engaged to be married to a new girlfriend and they were planning to buy a house together.