Royal Navy commander cleared over smacking colleague's bum
A Royal Navy Commander who slapped a female colleague's bottom was cleared of sexual assault by a court martial panel after he claimed 'it was just drunken buffoonery'.
Highly-respected Cdr Steven Heap allegedly left the senior officer's bottom 'sore' after shocking her with two 'firm slaps' during a Navy Christmas party in Portsmouth, despite meeting just minutes earlier.
The 48-year-old, who received an MBE from Prince Charles, told the hearing he was very drunk when he slapped her backside, insisting it was a 'prank' and he was 'showboating'.
The woman told the court-martial his right hand struck her right buttock so hard it left her sore and she fled the dance floor, only for him to repeat the action 20 minutes later.
The panel of five senior officers today cleared the Commander of two counts of sexual assault after just 57 minutes of deliberations.
Assistant Judge Advocate General Robert Hill said: 'To convict him, you must be sure there was a sexual purpose to the slaps or you must be sure that in the circumstances a reasonable man could think it was sexual.