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Guilty, booted from navy

A Halifax-based sailor has been handed a 22-month jail sentence and has been dismissed from the navy after a military judge found him guilty of sexually assaulting a subordinate.

In a verdict rendered Monday, military Judge Cmdr. Sandra Sukstorf also found Master Seaman Daniel Cooper guilty of ill treatment of a subordinate.

Sukstorf said there were inconsistencies in Cooper's testimony during the trial and in a statement given to military police that were at odds with the evidence in the case.

"I do not believe his version of events,'' said Sukstorf. "I do not find the accused credible on the issue of consent.''

Cooper had pleaded not guilty to the charges in relation to an incident aboard HMCS Athabaskan while the navy destroyer was visiting Spain in 2015.

But Sukstorf said Cooper's motivation was predatory and "clearly not honourable."

"The case amounts to a lack of consent on (the victim's) part and a giant leap of imagination on Cooper's part," she said.

Sukstorf agreed to a joint recommendation on sentencing submitted by the prosecution and defence, noting the abuse of trust by Cooper.

"When you committed (the offences) you tarnished all of us," she said.

In addition to the jail sentence and dismissal from the forces, the 30-year-old Cooper was demoted to the rank of ordinary seaman and must submit a DNA sample and register as a sex offender for a period of 20 years.

"We are satisfied with the outcome," Prosecutor Maj. Dominic Martin told reporters following the sentencing.

"This is a serious sexual assault that occurred," said Martin. "In terms of sentencing we are obviously satisfied that she (the judge) approved of our joint submission as an appropriate punishment that sends the strong message that needs to be sent for these types of offences."

Cooper took the stand in his own defence at his court martial last week and testified that the sexual activity was consensual, but the victim, whose name is protected by a publication ban, testified he awoke to the naval communicator at Canadian Forces Base Halifax performing oral sex on him.



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