Ex-navy officer to be sentenced for sexual offences against eight young men

Court news
Court news

A former officer in the Royal Navy who groped a junior member of crew while serving as second in command of a naval ship will be sentenced.

Last year Charles Howeson, 69, was convicted of 10 indecent assaults against eight young men in the 1980s and 1990s.

He was acquitted of attempted buggery and indecent assault against a ninth complainant last week, following a retrial at Bristol Crown Court.

Judge Mark Horton released Howeson, of Craigie Drive, Plymouth, on bail and will sentence him at the court on Friday.

The court heard Howeson has been diagnosed with cancer and is due to begin chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

Howeson was said to have used his position both in the Navy and as director of a Plymouth charity to commit the sexual offences against eight young men in the 1980s and 1990s.

He was lieutenant commander on HMS Cleopatra when he groped the genitals of one of the crew while walking up to the boat deck with him.

The victim immediately reported the incident.

A second man on the ship reported Howeson for touching his stomach and tugging at his shirt, though these allegations were not part of the criminal charges he faced.

Paul Dunkels QC, prosecuting, said the Royal Navy special investigations squad examined the allegations - which Howeson denied - and gave him a warning.

Howeson was then transferred to a different ship, with an official explanation given that he was unwell, he said.

The defendant's abuse continued when he joined the charity in Plymouth, which carried out environmental work.

He was accused of a series of indecent assaults against six young men during his time as executive director of the charity in the 1990s.

Those who complained about his behaviour were told that negative publicity would destroy the charity and Howeson would resign, the court heard.

Howeson, who denied all charges against him, resigned for health reasons five days after the complaints were received.