Royal Australian Navy officer, Sub Lieutenant Kris Petersen on the bridge of HMAS Gascoyne. PICTURE: ADF/Supplied
Royal Australian Navy officer, Sub Lieutenant Kris Petersen on the bridge of HMAS Gascoyne. PICTURE: ADF/Supplied

Breast ‘motor-boating’ naval officer gets off lightly

A SYDNEY naval officer found guilty of "motor-boating" a woman's breasts at a pub in Darwin has been let of "as leniently … as can be".

Sub Lieutenant Kristoffer Hans Petersen was on Thursday found guilty of committing an act of indecency without consent by touching a woman's breasts while drunk and "sweating profusely" at Wisdom's bar in Darwin in September last year.

Defence Force Magistrate Group Captain Scott Geeves said Sub Lt Petersen's denials of the allegation were "less than convincing".

"I am therefore satisfied that an incident occurred between the complainant and the accused when they were seated next to each other at Wisdom's bar … and that the touching of the breast was only fleeting, maybe for no more than a second or two," he said.

"(The offending is) most likely explained away by his level of intoxication, nevertheless, it was conduct which satisfies all of the elements of the charge."

Group Captain Geeves said the woman was "an honest and impressive witness", whose account was backed up by eyewitnesses.

In sentencing Sub Lt Petersen to a reduction in rank seniority - effectively setting back his next promotion by just over three years - Group Captain Geeves said the 38-year-old father of two had an impressive military career with only two minor disciplinary blemishes.

In a victim impact statement, the woman said she felt "at breaking point" following Sub Lt Petersen's attack.

Group Captain Geeves said the grope was "drunken, foolish behaviour" while Sub Lt Petersen was drunk.

"But I hasten to add, and I do so in the clearest … of terms, that intoxication … is by no means, and will never be, considered an excuse for such conduct.

HMAS Gascoyne
HMAS Gascoyne

"It could be said that it is very regretful that, having got to this situation in his life without any blemishes, he finds himself being sentenced for offending conduct which has, as a feature, the misuse of alcohol."

He said a message "must be sent" to other would-be gropers but that Sub Lt Petersen was a "special case" whose offending was in "unusual circumstances" and out of character.

"I can see those medals hanging on your chest," he said.

Group Capt Geeves said jail time or sacking would be "outside the appropriate sentencing range".

The court heard Sub Lt Petersen was cash strapped, with modest savings, having been suspended without pay for just over a month.

"I have been as lenient today in the circumstances as I can be," Group Captain Geeves said