Army sex attacker stayed on duty for TWO years after accusations
Army sex attacker was allowed to stay on duty for TWO years after he was accused – while his two female victims were transferred
- Corporal Matt Payne was sacked and placed on the sex offenders register
- Army source said handling of incident showed a ‘complete lack of leadership’
A bomb disposal expert who sexually assaulted two female soldiers remained on duty for two years after complaints were first made.
Corporal Matt Payne, 34, was sacked from the Army and placed on the sex offenders register last week after he was convicted of two counts of sexual assault, two of attempted sexual assault and one charge of battery.
Despite complaints first being made in May 2021, he was on duty until his conviction last month, allowing him to continue firearms training with other soldiers and work alongside female colleagues. The two women victims were transferred to other barracks – one of which Payne was even sent to visit.
Campaign groups last night said the episode was the latest sorry chapter in the Army’s long history of failing to protect women from predators.
A senior Army source admitted that the handling of the incident showed a ‘complete lack of leadership’ from commanding officers.
Corporal Matt Payne, 34, (pictured) was sacked from the Army and placed on the sex offenders register last week after he was convicted of two counts of sexual assault, two of attempted sexual assault and one charge of battery
Payne was serving with 11 Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD), 321 and Search Squadron in Northern Ireland, when the offences took place, Catterick Military Court heard.
He sexually assaulted Victim A in her bedroom in May 2021, thrusting his hand inside her waistband and asking if he could ‘play with her’. She reported the attack to commanding officers.
Two months later, Payne gripped the same woman by the throat and tried to blackmail her into having sex with him by threatening to lie to her partner about a fictional affair.
The same evening he groped the breasts of Victim B. That November, Payne was badly beaten by Victim B’s partner and the woman made a complaint. Payne was arrested and formally charged that December. But he continued in his role, keeping his Army ID which gave him approval to access top secret material.
After Victim B’s allegation of sexual assault was made against Payne, he was sent to visit a set of barracks where she was based, to her shock.
In an impact statement, Victim A said Payne returned to her room every night leaving her feeling unsafe in her own accommodation. ‘I have had to stay in my room when Matt has been waiting outside to the point where I have had to use my own sink to urinate in,’ she said.
‘I feel I am in a constant state of worry about what is going to happen next and I can’t trust him around me or any of the other females. I’m scared to be anywhere he knows where I am.’
Despite complaints first being made in May 2021, he was on duty until his conviction last month, allowing him to continue firearms training with other soldiers and work alongside female colleagues. The two women victims were transferred to other barracks – one of which Payne was even sent to visit. Pictured: Military Court Centre
As he awaited trial, Payne was sent to Ashchurch, Gloucestershire, where he could work from home. But sources said he was able to continue to approach women in barracks because his ID card was not removed and there were no formal measures to keep him away from female soldiers.
Emma Norton, of the Centre for Military Justice charity, said: ‘This appalling situation sadly comes as no surprise. There are things the Army should be doing, like placing a marker on the files of both the accused and the victim to ensure they are never posted together in the same place – it seems that wasn’t done here.
‘It is astonishing that after he was charged – not just accused – this soldier appears to have been kept on duty, allowed to continue training and then posted to a course alongside someone he was accused of having sexually assaulted. It is not at all clear what if any measures were put in place to protect the victims or other women.’
An Army spokesman confirmed Payne was dismissed last Wednesday. Payne, who started serving in 2014, will also have to attend 90 days of group work and 30 days in a rehabilitation programme.
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