TWO former sea cadets who claim their sergeant sexually abused them in Chester have been accused of telling a “pack of lies”.
Ian Harrison, 53, denies 13 counts of indecent assault against the complainants, who allege he molested them on camp trips, training exercises and in the city barracks on New Crane Street.
On day three of his trial at Chester Crown Court today, one of the men told jurors that Harrison had led him to a storeroom in the cadet building one evening and sexually assaulted him.
He also described several other instances during sleepovers at the defendant's home when he was groped by his superior officer, who used to serve in the Royal Marines.
But during cross-examination, defence barrister Paul Wood suggested that the two complainants – who were teenagers at the time - had concocted a story about Harrison between them.
“I'm going to suggest that yourself and [the second complainant] got your heads together,” he said.
“The two of you have got it in for Mr Harrison and thought you'd come to court and the allegations you make against him are a pack of lies. Would you accept that?”
“No,” replied the witness.
Describing the storeroom incident, the alleged victim said he and his fellow cadets had been sleeping over at the barracks, laughing and joking with each other.
He told of his shock when Harrison then led him to the storeroom and assaulted him with the lights on and door ajar, roughly 18 feet from where the other boys had bedded down.
Asked by prosecutor Anna Pope how he had felt, he said: “I didn't know what to do; I was scared. It's been eating me up ever since. Should I have said something then? I didn't think anyone would believe me anyway.”
However, Mr Wood suggested that the incident “simply didn't happen”.
He also suggested that at no time did the complainant stay the night at Harrison's former home in Lache, Chester, and only ever visited once in order to collect gear for an excursion.
“Mr Harrison has at no stage sexually assaulted you at his house,” Mr Wood suggested.
“If that's what he thinks,” replied the complainant. “But he did.”
The court heard Harrison, now of Staffin Avenue, Ellesmere Port, was well-respected by the cadets, especially as he had earned the coveted green beret worn by commandos during his career in the army.
Asked why he returned to Harrison's home several times after the initial incident, the man replied: “I thought he might not do it again and it might all go away.”
The complainant also related an incident in the early 2000s when he was an adult and approached Harrison asking if he could stay at his home for a short while.
His plan was to get back at his alleged abuser by stealing from him, drinking his alcohol and eating his food. He claims he was again molested by Harrison during this time.
However, Mr Wood suggested Harrison had taken the man in but asked him to leave when he discovered he had been taking advantage of his hospitality.
Harrison claimed he had not even been living at the address at the time as he was in a relationship with a woman.
Asked why it had taken until 2016 to make a complaint to the police, the complainant said he'd “had enough” and Harrison had ruined his life.
He denied he and the second man had concocted the story, stating that the two of them had last communicated on Facebook about 10 years ago.
The trial continues.