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

Naval officer in court over ‘motorboating’ woman’s breasts

A naval officer appeared drunk and was "sweating profusely" at a bar in Darwin when he reached down a woman's shirt and began "motorboating" her "quite large breasts", a court has heard.

At a Defence Force Magistrates Court trial in Canberra on Tuesday, Sub Lieutenant Kristoffer Hans Petersen, then posted to the Sydney-based minehunter HMAS Gascoyne, pleaded not guilty to committing an act of indecency without consent.

Prosecuting officer Major Cassandra Kanaley said the case against Sub Lt Petersen was "straight forward".

Giving evidence, the woman, whose name is suppressed, said she was sitting next to Sub Lt Petersen when he began "motorboating my boobs".

The woman insisted she used the word "motorboating" in an interview with defence force investigators, although the word was not included in a written statement.

"We were trying to describe that in more of a military sense," she said.

 

Darwin’s Wisdom Bar & Cafe. Picture: Google Maps.
Darwin’s Wisdom Bar & Cafe. Picture: Google Maps.

 

The alleged groping took place at Wisdom nightclub on Darwin's Mitchell St party strip in September 2018.

"He had a really red face, the words he was saying were a little bit jumbled, he was sweating profusely and I had previously seen him intoxicated before," the woman said.

After jokingly flicking Sub Lt Petersen on the nose, the woman said Sub Lt Petersen "stood up in the seat, leant over me and he had his hands down my top".

"He's got his hands down my cleavage and he's aggressively rubbing my chest area," she said.

"When he moved his hands back and forth it caused my breasts to move back and forth."

"At the time I was shocked and then I felt sad. I felt disrespected."

When defending officer Lieutenant Commander Malcolm Gracie asked the woman in cross examination to detail what she meant by "motor-boating", Defence Force Magistrate Wing Commander Scott Geeves said: "Anyone who has watched movies such as Wedding Crashers would be familiar with the term".

 

HMAS Gascoyne, in happier times. Picture: Supplied/ADF
HMAS Gascoyne, in happier times. Picture: Supplied/ADF

 

A witness, Leading Seaman Seamus O'Reilly, said he saw "one hand on (the woman's) shoulder and another on her chest area".

"In my opinion, it was an inappropriate area," he said.

He said Sub Lt Petersen was drunk enough he was slurring his words.

"He arrived (at Wisdom's) fairly intoxicated already (but) not to the point where he was falling over."

"My recollection is that his hand touched her on the breast, not just on the chest.

"It was enough for me to make a mental note of 'maybe that's inappropriate'."

Another witness, Able Seaman Chloe Quinn said: "his hands did go between her cleavage".

"I distinctly remember (the line of her top) going by his wrist but I don't believe it went further than his elbow."

She said Sub Lt Petersen greeted her at the bar that day by "embracing me and kissing me on the cheek before I leaned away".

"As I arrived … he did seem quite intoxicated."

Giving evidence in his own defence, Sub Lt Petersen denied "groping" the woman and said he poked her in the chest jokingly.

"I considered her an acquaintance, bordering on a friend," he said.

He denied putting either of his hands down her top but said after the "poke" she turned away and "her exact words to me were, 'you're f*cking disgusting'".

The trial continues.