A sailor who admitted to his part in an Australian navy hazing and rape scandal involving a rubber chicken has had some of his convictions quashed. Able Seaman Rohan Martin Angre pleaded guilty in 2014 to assault, forcible confinement and engaging in an indecent act without consent over a hazing incident in which a sailor was sexually assaulted with a rubber chicken on board HMAS Newcastle in 2011.
Angre appealed against his convictions before the Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal and said a miscarriage of justice had occurred because he had pleaded guilty as part of a plea bargain. He said the admissions were not “a manifestation of a genuine consciousness of guilt”.
Justices Richard Tracey, John Logan and Paul Brereton on Monday found holding Angre to his plea bargain would be a “grave miscarriage of justice”. The tribunal has quashed Angre’s convictions for engaging in an indecent act and forcible confinement, and ordered a new trial for those charges. But Angre’s appeal against his assault conviction was dismissed.
In appealing against the other charges, the naval technician said he decided to plead guilty even though he believed the agreed statement of facts about the incident was “bulls***” and “fictional”. Angre said he was advised by his defence counsel he should agree to the statement of facts in order to secure a plea bargain that did not have a jail term.
Angre said he felt he was “getting railroaded” but signed the deal because he wanted to avoid a prison sentence.
In its judgment on Monday, the Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal noted Angre had repeatedly protested his innocence on the forcible confinement and indecent act charges.
But Angre entered into the plea bargain because he believed there would be a number of benefits for doing so, the tribunal said.
“Yet one of the benefits for which he bargained and which induced his plea was in truth never available to him and would be denied him,” the three judges wrote. “To hold Able Seaman Angre to a plea of guilty entered on that basis, when he had no genuine consciousness of guilt, would be a grave miscarriage of justice.”
Angre was one of four navy members charged over a 2011 hazing ritual on board HMAS Newcastle where a sailor was hog-tied. The victim told a court-martial hearing he was smeared with Deep Heat and Vegemite before being assaulted with a rubber chicken, and was left with burns to his body and genitals from the ointment.
Angre and his co-accused – Jonathan Walter, Mitchell Summers, and Michael Thompson – were acquitted of the most serious charge, involving allegations of sexual intercourse without consent.
By: Jacqueline Le