It was ‘banter,’ according to a British Army corporal accused of touching a subordinate female soldier and ‘pestering’ her for naked images.
After she requested for his assistance on a computer in Colchester, Corporal Phillip Marshall-Nichols allegedly groped the female Private’s breasts. He’s also accused of ‘grinding’ his groin into her bottom as he walked out of the room after making a cup of tea.
Two charges of sexual assault were reportedly disputed by the Army corporal of the 16 Medical Regiment. However, he stated that camera emojis and question marks in WhatsApp and Snapchat messages were ‘banter’ rather than demands for naked images.
Cpl Marshall-Nichol also said the messages were actually innocent requests for pictures of model figurines that the female soldier likes to make.
Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire, heard that Cpl Marshall-Nichols and the woman had a purely professional relationship in the year they knew each while stationed at an Army barracks in Colchester, Essex.
The alleged victim previously told the court she had been talking to a male soldier when Cpl Marshall-Nichols paused behind her and ‘grinded’ his penis into her bottom as he left the room.
The woman said: ‘I was in the break room with [another private]. Cpl Marshall-Nichols was making a brew. At one point he moved to leave the room, and as he passed me he stopped and grinded his d**k into my a**e, left to right.
‘He didn’t say anything and it didn’t go on for long, but I could feel his penis.’
The other soldier in the room at the time told the court he saw a look of shock cross his friend’s face as Cpl Marshall-Nichols stopped behind her.
The former private, who has since left the military, said: ‘I couldn’t see how close they were but by her facial expression she did not like it […] It just happened out of the blue and went on for a couple of seconds.
‘Me and [the female soldier] went out for a cigarette afterwards and she explained what had happened.’
She said he then sent messages on Snapchat and WhatsApp asking for naked photos of her after group PT (physical training) sessions.
The woman said: ‘He was asking for pictures while I was in the shower. I just said, “No”.’
When she refused she said he branded her a ‘spoilsport’ and the female soldier also ‘blocked him on Snapchat’.
Cpl Marshall-Nichols today denied his messages to the young female private were requests for naked photos and argues they were simply ‘banter’ and ‘a laugh’.
Cross-examining him, prosecutor Commander Peter Barker said: ‘You sent two emojis – a camera with flash and one without […] that is a request for photos.
‘Her response is: “No”. A flat refusal. You respond immediately, saying: “Spoilsport lol” and the crying laughter emoji.
‘You are pestering one of your subordinates for a picture in the shower.
‘You are calling her a spoilsport. You are disappointed and upset that she’s not sending a photo, aren’t you?’
Cpl Marshall-Nichols responded saying: ‘No – it’s banter, sir.