‘A drunken fumble’ – Married Royal Navy sailor and father of three acquitted of raping 21-year-old woman at Sonisphere Festival in Knebworth

Katherine Roberts was sentenced at Luton Magistrates' Court yesterday.

Katherine Roberts was sentenced at Luton Magistrates' Court yesterday. - Credit: Archant

A married Royal Navy sailor and father of three has been found not guilty of raping a 21-year-old woman at a Knebworth music festival.

Afghanistan veteran Jonathan Millard admitted having had ‘a drunken fumble’ with the Royal Naval Reservist in her tent, hours after they met at the Sonisphere Festival in July 2014.

But he told Cambridge Crown Court it had been consensual and stopped short of full sex.

The 36-year-old told the court that the young woman had led him back to her tent while kissing him.

Prosecutor Angus Robertson gave a very different version of events, alleging that after the young woman went back to her tent to sleep following hours of drinking and dancing, the sailor entered uninvited, removed her clothes and raped her.

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“You took advantage of a drunk young female, didn’t you?” he alleged. Millard denied this, but admitted having ‘made a mistake’ when he told police that both he and the woman had stayed fully clothed and only touched and cuddled.

The encounter happened only three hours after Millard, from Portsmouth, and the victim met for the first time through a mutual friend, a British Army soldier.

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The court heard that while he and the woman were being introduced reference was made to him looking like TV presenter Richard Osman, who the young woman said she had a crush on.

After dancing together, Millard and the woman sat by a campfire and kissed. Millard repeatedly refused to comment on how drunk the woman was during the evening – but in his statement to police he had described her as ‘very drunk’.

A consensual ‘drunken fumble’ followed in the woman’s tent, Millard told the court, but he was unable to have full sex because he had drunk so much.

Asked how the woman had come to have bruises around her groin and inner thighs, he denied having touched her thighs at all.

Millard admitted that the woman had said to him in the morning that she could not remember the night before, and also conceded that she had become increasingly cold to him over the rest of the weekend.

And he confirmed that when they parted at Stevenage railway station the victim rejected his offer of a hug, then refused to shake his hand or give him a fist bump.

It was Millard’s wife who had bought him the ticket for the festival, but she knew nothing of his infidelity until he was arrested a month later.

The jury took about two hours to reach a verdict on Monday, and acquitted the father of children aged 11, eight and three.

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