Army officer tells court soldier might keep job despite sex assault
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A judge has criticised a senior army officer who told a court that the army would consider retaining a soldier who sexually assaulted a woman after a night out in Colchester.
Jailing 27-year-old Joshua Meider, who was described as a “perfect" soldier by his commanding officer, Judge Emma Peters said she had three decades experience in the army and legal system and there was no way that even someone with the defendant’s exemplary qualities would be allowed to continue serving in the army after committing such an offence.
She said she found it “extraordinary” that a senior officer had told the court the army would consider retaining Meider if he wasn’t sent straight to prison.
She said she totally disagreed with the officer and said his suggestion that Meider could be kept on in the army at a reduced rank or on limited duties was a disservice to the defendant who would have had his hopes falsely raised.
Judge Peters said nothing the woman had done during the night out could justify Meider thinking she wanted more and was consenting to more.
Meider, who was a 23-year-old Lance Corporal stationed in Colchester at the time of the offence in April 2018, denied rape and sexual assault but admitted an offence of sexual assault by digital penetration.
Sacha Bailey, prosecuting, said the pleas to the offences were acceptable and there was no need for a trial.
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He was jailed for 30 months and ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely.
The court heard the woman, who had been drinking during a night out in a Colchester, had woken up to find Meider with his hand inside her underwear.
She “froze” and thought if she stayed still he would leave, said Miss Bailey.
After a while she thought he’d gone to sleep and the police were contacted after she reported what had happened to a friend.
The court heard that Meider had an “impeccable” record and if he wasn’t dismissed from the army he could help educate other soldiers to prevent similar assaults on women happening in the future.
Emma Nash, for Meider, described what he did as a “ monumental misjudgement” and said he was genuinely remorseful.
She said the offence dated back to 2018 and the delay in the matter coming before the court had had a significant effect on his life which had effectively been put on hold.
She described the offence as an “isolated” incident and said Meider had an impressive army record.
“He really would have lost everything if he loses his army career,” said Miss Nash.