Officer demoted for spying on colleague in shower
Navy officer James McLaren has been demoted and given a suspended fine of more than $5000 following his conviction on a charge of committing an act of indecency against a shipmate on board HMAS Parramatta earlier this year.
Handing down sentence this afternoon, the president of the naval courtmartial panel, Commander John Peterie, said Lieutenant McLaren would be demoted to the rank of sub-lieutenant, which is the navy's lowest officer ranking.
The offence for which the 37-year old was convicted took place on January 2 this year, when a female sailor who was drying herself after a shower noticed a mirror pointing in her direction from beneath the adjoining shower stall occupied by then–Lieutenant McLaren.
He had been in been in the navy for more than 20 years, working his way up from the ranks of junior sailor at the age of 16. The panel also heard that he had completed his marine engineering certificate only a week ago.
Defending officer Major John Lo Schiavo submitted that it was a qualification that was hard to obtain and which the navy could ill-afford to lose, and that the man's naval record had been unblemished for two decades.
The prosecutor, Lieutenant Commander Darren Musgrove, said the offence had been a breach of trust when the ship was in the middle of sensitive operations in Dubai.
In asking the panel to consider its sentence this morning, Judge Advocate Jennifer Woodward said it should take into account the need to send a "symbolic statement of disapproval" on behalf of the defence community of the officer's conduct.