Soldier, 29, who grabbed two female colleagues’ bottoms to ‘lighten the mood’ during a parade but said it was ‘just banter’ is found guilty of sexual assault and jailed for two months

  • ‘Smirking’ Phillip Ewart, 29, pinched the women within minutes of each other
  • Tpr Ewart told Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire that it was just ‘banter’
  • The court martial board found Tpr Ewart guilty of two charges of sexual assault

A soldier who grabbed the bottoms of two female colleagues while they were on parade to ‘lighten the mood’ has been found guilty of sexual assault and jailed for two months.

‘Smirking’ Trooper Phillip Ewart, 29, of the Household Cavalry pinched the women within minutes of each other as they stood by his side at Windsor Barracks.

When asked to explain squeezing the women’s behinds, he told Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire that it was just ‘banter’ and he would have done it to a male colleague as well.

But after deliberating for two and a half hours, the court-martial board found Tpr Ewart guilty of two charges of sexual assault.

Sentencing him to 60 days in military prison, Assistant Judge Advocate General Alistair McGrigor told Tpr Ewart: ‘You said there was no element of sexual intention but the court found there was an element of sexual gratification on your part.’

In a statement, one of his victims told the court that the incident had affected the way she works because other troopers ‘judge her.’

She said: ‘I think that because of this I cannot work in the same way I did before. I also think that other troopers will think and talk differently around me.

‘I am worried this will happen again and there is nothing I can do to prevent it from happening again.’

Trooper Phillip Ewart of the Household Cavalry pinched the women within minutes of each other as they stood side by side at Windsor Barracks

 

When asked to explain squeezing the women's behinds, Tpr Ewart told the court it was just 'banter' and he would have done it to a male colleague as well

Trooper Phillip Ewart (pictured arriving at Bulford Military Court) of the Household Cavalry was found guilty of two charges of sexual assault

Defending, Chris Jenkins labelled Tpr Ewart’s behaviour ‘ill judged’ and described him as an ‘idiot’.

Mr. Jenkins said: ‘Trooper Ewart behaved like an idiot, (the acts) were done as an ill-judged foolish attempt to make a nuisance of himself out on parade.’

He added: ‘He thought because his guy friends would think it funny then they probably would too. It is because he is an idiot that he thought that would be transferred on to his female friends.’

Mr. Jenkins said Tpr Ewart felt ‘sick to his stomach’ when the women did not take his actions as a joke.

Referred to as ‘trusted guardians of the monarch,’ the regiment is one of the most senior in the British Army.

The court martial heard the troopers had been called out on Sunday morning parade, but as they lined up, one of Tpr Ewart’s victims – who cannot be named for legal reasons – told the court he grabbed her behind.

‘I did not feel explicitly comfortable at first but we were on parade so I thought I will deal with the matter afterwards,’ she said.

Tpr Ewart (pictured arriving at Bulford Military Court) denied groping the women and claimed he had just 'tapped' them

‘He shrugged his shoulders when he smirked and then faced the front away from me. A few minutes later he did the exact same thing to (the other trooper).’

His second victim said: ‘I felt really shocked and disgusted which is why I directly faced the left and asked what just happened.

‘I asked it directly to Trooper Ewart and I said it quite aggressively because of how I felt and no one said anything.

‘I was just in shock and so much emotion came over me – I was really overwhelmed – that I just burst out crying.’

A witness, Trooper Monja Danischewsky, told the court Tpr Ewart quipped after the incident that he was ‘only trying to lighten the mood.

The court heard the soldier had later sent the second woman a Whatsapp message after the incident to apologize and explain that he needed to remember he did not work in a male-dominated environment.

In court, Tpr Ewart denied groping the women and claimed he had just ‘tapped’ them.

He told the hearing he thought he had a friendship with both of them which meant it was okay for him to touch their bottoms and that his male colleagues had a ‘similar sort of banter.’

The trooper also told the court there was no specific reason for one of the incidents other than ‘she was there.’

When asked to explain his behavior, he said: ‘(I was) just being an idiot to be honest. It was a joke taken the wrong way.

Bulford Military Court banter

Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire heard that all three troopers were serving in the training wing of the Household Cavalry Mounted Regiment when the incident happened

‘It was nothing more than a brief tap and there was no sexual motivation behind it at all.’

He added: ‘It was just a wrong time, wrong place, heat of the moment thing. There was no specific reason other than she was there.

‘It could have been a male colleague. There was no difference between male and female at all.

Tpr Ewart went on to say it was due the ‘nature of the friendship’ he believed he had with both of them that he thought it was okay to grab their bottoms.

He said: ‘I would not have dreamt of doing that to someone I had just met five minutes ago.

‘I (did it) as (I would) with my male colleagues mucking around and having the same kind of banter.’

Prosecuting, Sol Hartley challenged Tpr Ewart on his claim that he did it for a joke.

‘If this was just for amusement you could have tapped them on the back or on the shoulder couldn’t have you?’ he asked.

‘You could have flicked their ear but you did not flick their ear you grabbed their buttocks and you did that because it was sexual and degrading for those two didn’t you?’

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