AN ARMY recruitment sergeant has been found guilty of sex attacks on young female recruits.
Edwin Mee, 46, abused his power to “bully and groom” the women before attacking them, after swapping the excitement of the battlefield for a “dull” job in a recruitment office.
“This is a pattern of bullying sexual behaviour”Prosecutor Rosina Cottage
The Glaswegian’s job was to screen cadet applications, interview the hopefuls and support them through training to achieve the required fitness levels. But he used the screening process to isolate his victims at an Army careers centre in Croydon, south London, and “gauged” the vulnerability of overseas-born cadets before sexually abusing them.
Candidates were supposed to go through a three-interview process, with the third interview conducted by a different recruiter, but Mee ignored the system, the court heard.
His campaign of abuse began by spanking women on the bottom and escalated to raping a vulnerable recruit.
He was found guilty of carrying out sex attacks on seven victims after a trial at London’s Southwark Crown Court.
He was convicted of ten sexual assaults, two rapes and one count of assault by penetration, after the jury deliberated for 27 hours and 28 minutes. He was found not guilty of three counts of sexual assault.
Mee, who denied all the charges against him, showed no emotion as the verdicts were read out yesterday.
Jurors are still deliberating on four further counts of sexual assault and one of rape.
Mee, a divorced father-of-five, attacked women aged from 16 to their early 20s between 2010 and 2011. He attacked one young woman who was originally from Sierra Leone after tricking her into believing her visa status depended on him, even pretending to ring the Home Office moments before raping her.
He would stay late at the careers centre and conduct interviews with applicants out of hours to “deliberately” target his victims.
He asked a 16-year-old if she had body piercings, and said he wanted to see the piercing in her tummy. Later he slapped her bottom and when she complained, told her: “It’s you who needs the Army.”
Another of his victims spoke of how she saw Mee as a father figure before he raped her.
Mee had rubbished his victims’ accounts, branding one rape victim a “time waster” and blasting another woman’s story as “absolutely ludicrous”.
Prosecutor Rosina Cottage said: “The implication is clear – put up or shut up. This is a pattern of bullying sexual behaviour that was repeated again and again to the female cadets to make them feel that he had power over them and control over their future.”
Mee disregarded normal Army interview procedures to keep the complainants to himself and “gauge their vulnerability”, she said.
He would speak to them about sex, touch them and in the most serious instance commit rape, Ms Cottage said.
She added: “A number of the complainants in this case were young black women, born outside the United Kingdom.
“Whether the defendant believed that this gave them a vulnerability in relation to their immigration status, or gave him an excuse to pretend that he had some power over them, the inference that the prosecution say can be drawn is that he deliberately targeted these young women.”
The jurors will return to continue their deliberations today.