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Last Updated: Monday, 5 February 2007, 14:03 GMT
Navy petty officer in rape trial
HMS Nelson
HMS Nelson is the Navy's main base in Portsmouth
A Royal Navy petty officer is to face a trial accused of raping a female sailor while on board a warship - thought to be the first case of its kind.

Chief Petty Officer Phillip Coates did not attend a preliminary hearing at HMS Nelson in Portsmouth, Hants, on Monday.

The medical assistant is charged with rape aboard a Royal Navy ship while in the Mediterranean in March last year.

It is thought to be the first alleged rape of a female sailor since women went to sea.

The case has been adjourned for the trial in March.

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