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Alleged victim of Halifax rape by British sailors suing U.K. government

Last Updated Mar 13, 2018 at 1:20 pm EDT

Darren Smalley, one of four British sailors charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm, attends provincial court in Dartmouth, N.S., on June 30, 2015. Smalley and fellow sailor Simon Radford are the only two facing charges in the incident. CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX – A Nova Scotia woman who alleged she was gang raped by British sailors is suing the U.K. government, arguing it should pay damages for harm she suffered in the incident.

Four men were originally charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm and participating in a group sexual assault in barracks at 12 Wing Shearwater on April 10, 2015.

Charges against two of the sailors have been dropped, with Darren Smalley and Simon Radford still set to go on trial in Nova Scotia Supreme Court in Halifax on Sept. 4.

The woman, whose name is banned from publication, says the Royal Navy bears responsibility for bringing the sailors to Canada and that she initially trusted the men because of their positions.

“That the defendant’s employees made themselves known as members of the Royal Navy made the plaintiff feel safe in accepting this offer and being in their presence,” says the court document.

The statement of claim filed last week has not been tested in court, and a statement of defence was not available.

The woman’s lawyer, Michael Dull, said in an interview that part of the motivation for the lawsuit is that the woman is upset the British government has fully funded the defence of its four employees.

“We say it’s appropriate if they funded the defence of the conduct, it’s appropriate that they fund compensation for the harm for the conduct.”

“We know these kinds of physical and emotional harms can be really long lasting and my client has suffered her share of those harms for the past two years and will likely in the future,” said Dull.

The Crown originally alleged the sailors participated in a “group sexual assault,” and said the men were in Canada to participate in a hockey tournament on the Halifax-area base.

Several days into a preliminary inquiry in April 2016, charges were dropped against Craig Stoner, while charges against Joshua Finbow were withdrawn in December after a statement he’d filed was ruled to be inadmissible.

The amount of damages being sought was not specified in the lawsuit.