- Four Royal Navy sailors appear at bail hearing in Nova Scotia, Canada
- Three sailors are from Hampshire, one is from Gloucestershire
- Charged with raping a 21-year-old woman at military base party
- Men were in Canada playing a hockey tournament with Canadian forces
Four Royal Navy sailors charged with the gang rape of a young woman at an alcohol-fuelled party in Canada have arrived in court to hear if they will be granted bail.
Joshua Finbow, 23, Craig Stoner, 24, Simon Radford, 31, and Darren Smalley, 35, attempted to cover their faces in hooded sweatshirts as they were led to court in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.
The four British men may have their passports removed if they are granted bail to eliminate a flight risk, a military spokesman said today.
Accused: Joshua Finbow, 23, a submarine engineer from Stockbridge, Hampshire, arrives at court today
Two of the accused, Simon Radford, 31, of Gosport, Hampshire and Craig Stoner, 24, from Stonehouse, Gloucestershire hid their faces as they were led to a provincial court in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia
Darren Smalley, 35, of Gosport, Hampshire, and his co-accused may have their passports removed to reduce flight risk if they are granted bail today
'If they are released and they go back to England there's no guarantee that they will come back,' Major Yves Desbiens, Canadian Forces Military Police Group spokesman, told Herald News.
Major Desbiens said the four sailors - Finbow, of Stockbridge, Hampshire, Stoner, of Stonehouse, Gloucestershire, Radford and Smalley, both of Gosport, Hampshire - could be sent to a British military unit in Alberta should they be released pending trial.
The men, who were taking part in a Royal Navy ice-hockey team tour of Nova Scotia, allegedly attacked a 21-year-old woman from Halifax.
The assault was reported to police by the woman immediately afterwards, and the four British men were arrested six days later.
The men were charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm and group sexual assault. A spokesman for the Canadian military police said the four were at a drinks party at the Shearwater naval base near Halifax on April 10 when the alleged offence took place.
The alleged victim, who is a civilian, was taken to hospital and examined by sexual assault nurses.
Charged: Royal Navy sailors Joshua Finbow, 23, (left) and Simon Radford, 31, (right) appeared in court
Held: Craig Stoner, 24, (left) and Darren Smalley, 35, (right) are being held by military police in Canada
Shearwater is a secure military facility where ID is needed for access. The woman was reportedly invited on to the base to attend a party linked to the ice hockey tournament.
Lieutenant Colonel Francis Bolduc, commanding officer of the Canadian Forces National Investigations Service (CFNIS), said: 'This is a disturbing accusation of sexual assault.
'I'm pleased with the full co-operation provided by the British authorities to support the hard work and diligence of the CFNIS team in responding to this matter.'
Military police seized bedding, clothing and electronic devices such as mobile phones, laptops and iPads belonging to the men.
They also forensically examined the room the attack is alleged to have taken place in, along with nearby areas. If found guilty, the men could face 14 years in jail. The charges will cause serious embarrassment to senior Royal Navy officers.
One source said: 'I expect very high-ups in both the Canadian and British navies are going to be watching this case closely.'
Radford – understood to be the team's coach – lives in Gosport, Hampshire, with his wife Yvonne, and their daughter.
He had posted on Facebook on April 5 about travelling to Halifax from Heathrow. The day after the alleged attack he said he was at the city's harbour.
Naval base: The East Coast Navy base at Halifax, Nova Scotia, near to where the alleged incident occurred
Military base: An aerial view of the Shearwater military base where four British sailors are accused of assaulting a civilian
Last night his wife said she had not spoken to him since his arrest. It is understood Finbow, of Stockbridge, Hampshire, also has a partner.
The day before the incident, the team had taken part in curling at an ice rink.
Then on the day of the alleged attack, the team played against the Canadian Fleet Diving Unit in the morning, followed by the Shearwater over-45s team in the afternoon.
Hal Puddifant, Shearwater arena manager, said: 'They seemed like a good group of guys, there were a couple of Canadians on the team. They cancelled some games. I have no idea why.'
Crown attorney Scott Morrison said: 'It is a sensitive issue and a very serious charge.
'At this point it's possible they could be released, but the main issue is whether or not they will be allowed to leave Canada.'
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said the navy 'takes allegations of this nature very seriously, however as legal proceedings continue it would be inappropriate to comment further'.
The team's Facebook page was taken down following the arrests, as were the men's personal Facebook pages.
The Royal Navy ice hockey website was taken down 'due to maintenance'.
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