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Ex-navy officer Charles Howeson on trial for sex offences

A former Royal Navy officer has gone on trial to face charges of sex assaults on young boys and men.

Charles Howeson, 67, of Stonehouse, Plymouth, denies 11 counts of indecent assault and one other serious sexual offence against 10 boys and men.

The alleged incidents happened on the frigate HMS Cleopatra where he was second in command and after he left the navy, Bristol Crown Court was told.

Mr Howeson felt “unassailable because of his status”, the court heard.

More on this story and others from Devon

Paul Dunkels QC, prosecuting, said the alleged offences were “about sexual behaviour towards young males” which “could be described as groping”.

Mr Dunkels said: “The common theme was his dominant position, his rank, age or position.

“He was emboldened because he thought he could face off any allegations.”

He said the cases, between December 1985 and September 1994, had come to court now because “the culture at the time was to discourage complaints to the police” and “some felt they would not be believed”.

Mr Howeson is a former regional chairman of Coutts bank, and a former chairman of Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, NHS Property Services and First Great Western Trains Advisory Board.

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