[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 March 2007, 16:37 GMT
Sailor 'recalled rape in therapy'
HMS Nelson
HMS Nelson is the Navy's main base in Portsmouth
A Royal Navy junior rating regained her memory of being raped by a colleague after undergoing a controversial psychotherapy technique, a court heard.

Chief Petty officer Phillip Coates, from Devon, denies a charge of raping the 24-year-old while at sea.

The alleged victim told the naval court in Portsmouth she only fully recalled the attack after seeing a psychologist.

Dr Susanne McGowan, who advised her, has told the court memories of incidents can be "fantasy not fact".

This is believed to be the first time a navy petty officer has faced a trial accused of raping a female colleague.

Drunken party

The trial at HMS Nelson, Portsmouth Naval Base, Hampshire, has heard the female junior rating was allegedly raped by the medical assistant while the Royal Navy ship was in the Mediterranean last March.

The alleged victim told the court she was raped in a small room between decks after getting drunk at a barbecue that was held to mark the end of the training event.

The trial has heard that in the days following the alleged attack, the rating could not remember anything of the incident apart from "gut feelings" and "images".

But two months later she attended a session with Dr Susanne McGowan, a consultant psychologist for the community mental health department at HMS Drake in Plymouth.

Memories can always be fantasy or fact
Dr Susanne McGowan

The trial has heard that following these sessions, the alleged victim could remember the incident in much greater detail.

Dr McGowan said that she used a part of a technique used in Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing (EMDR) to help the rating recall some of her lost memories.

But Dr McGowan admitted the technique was controversial as there was no guarantee that the recalled memories were not fantasy.

She said: "The controversy is the suggestion that the therapist is putting ideas into the memory of the person being seen.

"Memories can always be fantasy or fact."

Dr McGowan said she was not treating the alleged victim as a patient but was giving her "support and an environment to help her recall memories".

The trial continues.

Rape trial for navy petty officer
05 Mar 07 |  Hampshire

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific