Keep up with Armagh i

Soldier accused of rape and sexual assault remanded in custody to face Crown Court

Court heard of a previous alleged bail breach when it was claimed he escaped his barracks in the boot of a car and attended a public house in the Republic of Ireland with fellow riflemen

A serving soldier, who is accused of rape, has been refused bail and will face Crown Court proceedings later this year.

The 29-year-old’s barrister told Banbridge Magistrates’ Court, sitting at Newry, on Thursday: “This man’s army career is over. In fact it has been over from the minute he was charged.”

Robert Politi, whose address was given as c/o Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn, is charged with rape, sexual assault and sexual assault by penetration.

As the charges were read at, it was heard that the offences were alleged to have occurred on June 21, of last year.

Appearing via videolink from Maghaberry, the defendant made no objection to the holding of a preliminary enquiry, the legal process by which a case is referred to a higher court.

Prosecution submitted that based on the papers before the court there was a prima facie case to answer.

Defence barrister Kelly Doherty made no contrary submissions.

District Judge Eamonn King said that he was satisfied there was a prima facie case to answer and a date was fixed for his arraignment before Newry Crown Court on September 9.

Ms Doherty made it known that her client wished to apply for bail to an address approved by police.

She stated that her instructing solicitor was still to receive a document which had been provided to police and prosecution from the Ministry of Defence in relation to her client’s return to Thiepval Barracks.

The barrister admitted that Politi was “likely to be dismissed by the army”, but an address in England with his parents was available to him.

Prosecution stated that bail was objected to on the grounds that the defendant would fail to surrender or commit further offences.

Ms Doherty told court that her client had spent the last two weeks in custody, after he failed to attend court for a preliminary enquiry back in June and had handed himself into police the next day.

She stated that Politi had been put on gardening leave by the army and had been restricted to remaining in the Lisburn barracks for the last year, which led to breaches being committed.

“This man’s army career is over. In fact it has been over from the minute he was charged,” the barrister commented.

A previous court heard that police were informed by the army that Politi had been AWOL from June 2, until his eventual arrest on a bench warrant.

However, Ms Doherty on Thursday said that the defendant did not accept this, claiming that his entire unit had been granted home leave.

Giving evidence, a detective constable outlined that Politi had two previous convictions from 2016; one in relation to failing to surrender and the other referred to as a “drug offence”.

He then read a document which police had been provided from the Ministry of Defence, which outlined a number of alleged breaches in relation to his bail conditions.

It was heard how Politi had allegedly escaped the barracks in the boot of a car and had attended a public house in the Republic of Ireland with fellow riflemen.

The detective constable stated that the Ministry of Defence had commented that the defendant “could not be trusted”.

Ms Doherty commented that the defence had yet to be furnished with this document, which had been referred to at previous bail applications, and asked for it to be sent.

District Judge King stated: “This man finds himself in a precarious situation by his own actions. He has shown a complete disregard for the conditions placed on him and for that reason bail is refused.”

Politi was remanded in custody to appear before Newry Crown Court on September 9 for arraignment.

Newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter here.

Most read today

Latest podcasts

More in Armagh