"I've been a bad boy" - Fijian British Army soldier sentenced to prison for rape of women at South Cerney base

Corporal Serupepeli Niubasaga, 41, had pleaded ‘not guilty’ to rape but was found guilty after a week long trial.

The soldier, originally from Fiji and serving in the British Army as a Commonwealth soldier, was arrested in May of last year after being accused of raping a woman and sexually assaulting another after a barbeque.

Niubasaga, of Aaron Road, South Cerney, Gloucestershire, was said by witnesses to have been making rum punch at the party and was heavily intoxicated.

Women then arrived at the gathering in the Duke of Gloucester barracks and decided to attend.

Ray Tully prosecuting said of the events:  ‘Niubasaga made it known that he objected to the way one of the women was dressed and he believed that others at the barbecue were of the same opinion.

‘A little while later one of the women became a little worse for drink and had slumped in a chair and had gone to sleep.

‘Barbecue-goers kept an eye on the woman and in the mid-evening she was escorted back to where she was staying.

‘Corporal Niubasaga also volunteered to help take her back with the other woman and placed her in bed.’

However within 20 minutes the woman had recovered enough and she was back at the barbecue.

Mr Tully told the jury that Niubasaga had gone to another barbecue a short distance away and told his new hosts that he had taken a woman home and that she had asked him for sex, but he declined.

‘A little later another witness heard Niubasaga say ‘I’ve been a bad boy’, Tully said.

Bristol Crown Court heard that the woman then went back to bed around 10.30pm and the second woman – her friend staying living in the same house – went home afterwards herself.

The court heard she was shocked to find the accused waiting at home for her and said she recognised him from the party.

The court heard how they sat on the sofa and talked before he sexually assaulted her and raped her.

Mr Tully said: ‘When she went upstairs in her own home Niubasaga was in the house. She was surprised when he started talking to her.

‘The pair went downstairs and he sat on the sofa next to her. The next thing the woman knows is that Niubasaga had knelt down in front of her and began touching her up.

‘He told the woman that he didn’t like the way she dressed and said that it would invite unwanted attention. At this point he pushed her legs apart and touched her private parts and attempted to have oral sex with her.

‘The woman pushed his bald head away, but this failed to make him stop and he then got on top of her and raped her.

‘She tried to push him away by putting her hands on her chest and saying no to him.

‘The woman said that after she had protested for a while, he stopped and left. The situation left her feeling emotionally drained and didn’t know what to do.

‘She phoned a friend who was a serving female soldier at another base and told her what had happened. The soldier then contacted a mutual friend to go and assist.

The police were called and Corporal Niubasaga was taken into custody.

The jury was told that the police went to talk to the woman in bed and she described a man coming into the bedroom and sexually touching her between the legs.

‘She told the police that it was the ‘Fijian man’.

A trial on October 29th 2019 resulted in a hung jury but a retrial was set where the jury delivered a guilty majority verdict just after 4pm and Niubusaga was sentenced minutes later to seven years in prison and life on the sex offenders register.

Simone Bowley, Detective Constable in the Rape and Serious Sexual Offences Team lead the case and said: “The victim showed tremendous courage not only in reporting the offence but having the strength to give evidence for a second time.

“Her bravery is to be commended and I hope that reading her victim personal statement to the court let those see the detrimental effect this offence has had on her and gave her the closure she deserves.

“The sentencing reflects the serious nature of the crime committed and I hope that this positive outcome will encourage others to report, knowing that they will be taken seriously and be provided with the resources to support them and get them through what is a difficult and lengthy process.”

One of the victims, who haven’t been named to protect their identity, said: “I was pleased with the sentencing. To know that all of the hard work that was put in was worth it – it was a relief. So I was really pleased.

“I cannot thank the police enough. My officer Simone Bowley was just amazing. I don’t think I could have got through it without her. She was the most comforting; she was honest and up-front with me throughout.

“I was always able to contact her even if it wasn’t anything especially important, if I was just feeling a bit worried or upset. I just can’t thank her enough for everything that she did.

“Throughout the court process the witness care unit were really fantastic. They were just an amazing service to be on hand and to just make sure we were looked after.”

It is unclear if Niubusaga will be deported back to Fiji after serving his sentence but he has been terminated by the Army.

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