Sheraton Hotel, KampalaImage copyright Google
Image caption Lt Col Tomkins denied raping the woman at the Sheraton Hotel in Uganda

A married British Army officer has been cleared of raping a woman in a Ugandan hotel room after a UN meeting.

Lt Col Benedict Tomkins, 49, based at Abbey Wood, near Bristol, was acquitted by a board of Army officers at Bulford Military Court in Wiltshire.

He had denied raping the woman in her room at the Sheraton Hotel in Kampala on 7 January 2015, saying the sex had been consensual.

The board said it was “embarrassed” by Lt Col Tomkins’ conduct.

‘Smutty’

The court heard the Army officer and the woman had drunk four or five glasses of red wine during dinner, and later vodka and tonic and gin and tonic.

Lt Col Tomkins said the complainant told him she was “hot and sweaty” when they began preparing for a presentation on a laptop in her room.

He said: “As a joke, I said: ‘We could do it naked of course’.

“It was smutty, it was possibly more of its moment.”

He added: “This wasn’t a long-term romance, this was two people who met one night, had an enjoyable night and ended up having sex.”

‘Corporate embarrassment’

A board of seven Army officers took two hours to acquit Lt Col Tomkins of a single count of rape.

Brig Paul Tennant, the president of the board, said: “Despite unanimously and overwhelmingly reaching a finding of not guilty, we have been similarly united in our corporate embarrassment by the conduct of the defendant.

“We as commissioned officers feel strongly that Lt Col Tomkins’ behaviour, even by his own account, fell wholly and demonstrably short of what we would expect of an officer of his rank and experience.

“This failure goes well beyond the fact of his infidelity.”

Judge Advocate General Jeff Blackett said: “I would like to put it on record that too many offences occur because of the abuse of alcohol, more needs to be done by the services to address this issue.”

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