Man's appeal over boozy party bum slap denied
The commanding officer of an Army regiment has failed in his bid to overturn his conviction for slapping a lowly-ranked female soldier on her bottom while she was on the dance floor during a boozy party on a Queensland military base.
Lieutenant Colonel Jeremy Mikus denied slapping the woman, telling the original hearing: "That did not occur", but he was convicted of the charge of assault of a subordinate on August 6 and fined $6500 and severely reprimanded.
The conviction came following a three-day trial before Defence Force Magistrate Group Captain Scott Geeves where Lt Colonel Mikus pleaded not guilty.
Lt Colonel Mikus appealed the conviction to the Defence Force Discipline Appeal Tribunal (DFDAT) arguing it was unreasonable or could not be supported by the evidence, or that Magistrate Geeves made a legal mistake.
In their decision handed down this morning in Brisbane, the three-members of the DFDAT ruled that the conviction should stand because it was "well open on the whole of the evidence" for Magistrate Geeves to find that Lt Colonel Mikus had slapped the woman on the bottom on November 7 last year.
Lt Colonel Mikus was the commanding officer of the woman's regiment, the 1st Combat Signal Regiment and the slap with an open right hand occurred on the dance floor at the Gordon Club, Borneo Barracks in Cabarlah, near Toowoomba, during a function for junior soldiers.
Lt Colonel Mikus joined the raucous party for the junior soldiers following a formal cocktail party at the neighbouring Borneo Barracks Officers' Mess.
There were four witnesses to the slap including the woman's fiance, a fellow soldier, who told her within seconds: "That was the CO that just slapped your arse".
The woman told the original hearing that she felt a "pretty firm slap" on her rear.
Her fiance told the hearing that he remembered hearing the sound of the slap.
A female Captain said she saw Lt Colonel Mikus "lunge to reach forward" on the dance floor and slap the woman.
The DFDAT - made up of President, Federal Court Justice John Logan, Justice Paul Brereton and Member Peter Barr - heard that Lt Colonel Mikus's evidence before Magistrate Geeves had shifted significantly from him initially testifying that he did not remember the slap to outright denial of the incident.
Lt Colonel Mikus conceded he may have come into physical contact with the woman because the dance floor was full, but said he did not recall having any contact with her.
His lawyers argued in the tribunal a bottom slap was improbable because it was so out of character for Lt Colonel Mikus who was normally a "reserved" person.
But the DFDAT found that weighing against this possibility was evidence from multiple other soldiers that Lt Colonel Mikus was disinhibited, he was wearing a hi-vis jacket, having removed his formal mess jacket and he picked up and carried another female subordinate when she complained of sore feet.
Lt Colonel Mikus told the hearing he drank seven or eight alcoholic drinks that night, and had just arrived on a long-haul flight from the Middle East to Brisbane, via Darwin and Sydney.
The function was a celebration following a competition called the Cadueus Cup.
The DFDAT found that there was no evidence of ill-feeling or other bias by the four witnesses toward Lt Colonel Mikus prior to the slap.
The victim was a reluctant witness and did not want her commanding officer to be prosecuted, and she was worried it may harm his career if she made a complaint.
Lt Colonel Mikus had apologised to the woman, despite his denials of the assault.
Originally published as Bid to appeal conviction for boozy party bum slap denied