The court martial of an Army captain facing charges of indecency and bringing discredit to the Australian Defense Force has heard his accuser had a motive to lie.
- Captain William Michael Howieson is facing charges of indecency and bringing discredit to the Australian Defence Force
- An army nurse says he exposed his erection to her and presented an unsigned doctor’s note for intimate examination
- His defence lawyers argue that allowances unpaid by the captain to the nurse were a source of tension and a motive to lie
Captain William Michael Howieson, 29, was the ADF liaison officer with the Papua New Guinea defence force during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Port Moresby at the time of the alleged offence in 2018.
Captain Howieson is accused of asking a PNG army nurse to examine him for a lump in his groin.
She told the court that when he took his pants down, he had an erection, and she could find no lump.
She also told the court about a later incident when she said he had brought what he said was a doctor’s note asking her to help him collect sperm over five days.
Captain Howieson denies either incident happened.
“I don’t recall going into treatment room one,” he told the court martial.
Prosecutor Brigadier Jennifer Woodward cross-examined him, putting each allegation to him.
Brigadier Woodward: “You went into treatment room one with the pretext of seeking medical treatment from her.”
Captain Howieson: “No, ma’am.”
Brigadier Woodward: “You used the pretext … to get some sexual thrill by having [the complainant] touch your groin.”
Captain Howieson: “No.”
Captain Howieson has maintained he went to the health unit twice on one day, delivering first medical supplies and then T-shirts, something Brigadier Woodward queried.
“You did not bring T-shirts with you,” she said.
“I did take T-shirts on the sixteenth,” he replied.
Allowances a source of tension and motive, court martial hears
The court martial heard the pair had met before when the PNG army nurse had asked for his help stocking an ambulance provided by the Chinese government.
The woman had also asked for fuel.
Captain Howieson said he was able to help with most of it, but that the woman was flustered about extra allowances, which he had paid in the past, not being paid.
Brigadier Woodward questioned his account.
“The fact is you made it up because it’s just too awful for you to admit what you did,” she said.
“No,” he replied.
Captain Howieson’s lawyers told the court the allowances had been a source of tension, and were a motive for the alleged victim to lie.
They also suggested he had too much to lose to risk it on an “elaborate scheme for sexual gratification”.
The court was told Captain Howieson had been planning his career since he joined the cadets at 13, and would be unlikely to just throw it all away.
The five-member court martial panel will resume on Monday.