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Cadet found guilty in Duntroon sex assault case

Guilty ... RMC Duntroon cadet Paul Edward Buckley sexually assaulted a fellow soldier's wife.

Guilty ... RMC Duntroon cadet Paul Edward Buckley sexually assaulted a fellow soldier's wife. Photo: Rohan Thomson

An army officer cadet has been found guilty of sexually assaulting the wife of a friend and fellow soldier as she lay at home in the dark, mistakenly believing the man was her husband.

An ACT Supreme Court jury took just three hours to find Paul Edward Buckley, 24, guilty of the assault, which took place in a home on the Royal Military College campus in April last year.

A drunken Buckley went to the house after a superior ordered him to leave a formal Duntroon dinner event.

The woman, asleep on her couch, woke to the sound of her door opening, and hoped her husband had come home.

But Buckley, the Crown argued, had known her husband wouldn’t be home. Prosecutors alleged the pair had talked at the dinner, and say Buckley learned he would be sleeping in his room at the barracks.

The Crown alleged Buckley had also angered the husband by joking repeatedly that the trio should have a threesome.

The victim waited in the dark as footsteps were heard climbing the stairs to the home’s main bedroom, and then back down towards the lounge room.

The man said nothing, but began kissing her. He pulled her pants off and performed a number of sexual acts, before the woman began to realise he was not her husband.

That reality dawned on her when she asked the figure in the dark if everything was all right, and he spoke for the first time, saying ‘‘yep’’.

She chased him from the house, flicking a light switch on and seeing Buckley as he ran.

Police arrived at his doorstep hours later, and detectives said Buckley had shown no surprise when they told him of the accusations.

The incident sparked immediate condemnation from high ranking Duntroon officials.

Then RMC commandant David Luhrs, speaking after Buckley’s first court appearance last year, described the actions as ‘‘completely abhorrent’’.

‘‘Without making any judgment in this case, I can’t be any clearer when I say that the behaviour alleged to have taken place in this circumstance is completely abhorrent to me personally, and entirely at odds with the values and the standards of behaviour that I demand here at the Royal Military College, and more importantly, that the army demands of its future leaders,’’ he said.

The trial judge, Acting Justice John Nield, made it clear earlier this week the case was completely irrelevant to recent revelations about alleged sexual offences within the Australian Defence Force.

Buckley sat with his head bowed as the jury delivered its verdict on three charges, two of sexual intercourse without consent, and one of burglary.

He was convicted on all three counts, and has been placed behind bars until sentencing hearings begin next month.

The cadet told the court he had been drunk and had no memory of the attack, and defence barrister Ken Archer had not disputed his client had been in the house and committed the acts.

Mr Archer argued the woman had known the man in her lounge room was Buckley, but had wanted it to be her husband.

He said Buckley had left the house as soon as she withdrew her consent.

The jury rejected that version of events.

Justice Nield said a term of imprisonment was ‘‘inevitable’’, and refused Buckley bail.

The case will be back before court on August 9.

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