Officer groped colleague at Oktoberfest party, court martial hears

Army Warrant Officer groped female colleague’s breasts and rubbed his groin against her at Oktoberfest party while dressed in German lederhosen, court martial hears

  • Warrant Officer Moape Sigani, 50, was attending a themed Oktoberfest party
  • The Worthy Down Camp vehicle specialist was ‘drunk and happy’ at the event
  • Court martial heard he ‘danced provocatively’ at colleague wearing fancy dress
  • She said she refused his advances but he later returned and groped her breasts 
  • Other colleagues told the court they intervened and split the pair up
  • Sigani, of Southampton, denies sexual assault against the woman ‘completely’

A veteran British Army soldier groped a female colleague at an Oktoberfest party while dressed in German lederhosen, a court martial heard.

Warrant Officer Moape Sigani allegedly fondled the woman after ‘dancing provocatively’ at her while in fancy dress.

The long-serving soldier is accused of groping her breasts and rubbing his groin against the co-worker during the boozy military event.

The woman – who was also wearing the traditional German leather shorts – had to be ‘rescued’ by a friend, it was heard.

WO1 Sigani denies sexually assaulting the woman – a civilian who worked at Worthy Down Camp MoD base near Winchester, Hants.

Warrant Officer Moape Sigani allegedly fondled a female colleague after ‘dancing provocatively’ at her while in fancy dress at a military Oktoberfest party

WO1 Sigani denies sexually assaulting the woman – a civilian who worked at Worthy Down Camp MoD base near Winchester, Hants

The court martial at Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, heard that on the evening of the alleged incident the 50-year-old drank German beer from a traditional ceramic stein, three Foster’s lagers, two rum and cokes, and a Sambuca shot.

However, he claimed he was sober because he ‘didn’t want to be stinking the next day in front of a Brigadier’.

Wearing a chequered red shirt and black lederhosen, WO1 Sigani took part in dancing competitions to Thriller by Michael Jackson and the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song.

The court heard that ‘spirits were high’ at the party and everyone was dressed in thematic attire including the alleged victim.

WO1 Sigani, an Army vehicle specialist known as ‘Mo’, is said to have approached the woman, called her ‘lovely’ and asked her to come home with him.

The court martial at Bulford Military Court, Wiltshire, heard that on the evening of the alleged incident the 50-year-old drank German beer from a traditional ceramic stein, three Foster’s lagers, two rum and cokes, and a Sambuca shot

The woman, who described WO1 as an ‘acquaintance’, rejected the soldier – who had a long-term partner. However, he later returned and groped her, it was claimed.

Prosecutor William Peters said: ‘He came up to her again and started rubbing himself against her before he was pulled off by others.

‘He grabbed her around the waist and moved up her body and grabbed her breasts with some force.’

The woman, who cried in court while telling of her ‘shock’, said: ‘I was on the dance floor with various colleagues and WO1 Sigani started to dance with me.

‘He was dancing provocatively – rubbing his groin against my front, face to face.’

The court heard that this happened on more than one occasion.

The woman, who described WO1 as an ‘acquaintance’, rejected advances from WO1 – who had a long-term partner. However, he later returned and groped her, it was claimed

She continued: ‘Someone came over and split us up. I just let him dance because it was the easiest option.

‘Later on, I was dancing with friends and the next thing I know, I have been grabbed round the waist from behind at which point his hands came up and grabbed my chest.

‘It was not painful. It was like cupping or a light squeeze – one hand on each breast.

‘I tried to get him off me and I dug my elbows into his arms to release myself. As I turned, I ran away to my friends. He was still stood in the middle of the dance floor.

‘He was the only one it could have been, there was no one else.’

A witness, Paul Gallagher, said: ‘I saw Mo with his hand on her wrist – she didn’t look worried but she didn’t look happy.

‘I asked what was going on. She mentioned that she was not interested and I said get off her and put my hand on his wrist to get him off her. He let go and that was it.

The warrant officer, based in Southampton, Hants, said they never ‘danced as a couple’, only as part ‘of the group’. Pictured: Bulford Military Court

‘I had to apply some pressure to get his hand off her wrist, it was not hard but it was not easy to push him off.

‘I said “she is not interested” and he looked slightly intoxicated with a slight smirk – because he was drunk and happy.’

WO1 Sigani, who has 22 years service, denies sexual assault ‘completely’, insisting he did not touch the woman.

In his interview with the police, WO1 Sigani – of the Defence College of Logistics, Policing and Administration – said he had only seen the woman fall over and helped pick her up.

Speaking from the witness box, the soldier said he had ‘invited her to come home [with him] to give her some alcohol because the bar had run out of alcohol’ as it closed at 1am.

The warrant officer, based in Southampton, Hants, said they never ‘danced as a couple’, only as part ‘of the group’.

When questioned by defence, Richard Jones, as to whether he touched her, WO1 Sigani said: ‘No – I am clear and I know. I had a long term girlfriend at the time.’

The trial continues.

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