RAF squadron leader jailed for sexually assaulting fellow officer

·3-min read
Oliver Bayliss
Oliver Bayliss

An RAF squadron leader will serve nine months in jail for a sex attack that drove a fellow officer to attempt suicide.

Oliver Bayliss, 36, a recent leader of the elite Chinook helicopter display team, assaulted his victim at a social occasion in January last year.

The military court at Catterick was told that Bayliss, a married father, and his victim were not known to each other when they met on a night out at a military base where Bayliss was celebrating his promotion to Squadron Leader.

The court heard that the assault took place as Bayliss’s victim tried to get away from him when she saw his wedding ring.

It was then that Bayliss is said to have thrust his hand up her skirt and sexually assaulted her.

She said the attack, which she reported to the police the following day, left her feeling “filthy and disgusting”.

However Bayliss denied the offence of assault by penetration and was said to have told a probation worker that he had no need to assault his victim because he was more attractive than her.

The victim said the RAF had made her feel “ostracised” after she was ordered to work from home when she raised concerns that their paths might cross due to their line of work, while her attacker was allowed to continue his duties as normal.

Six months after the assault she tried to take her own life.

Oliver Bayliss by chinook
Oliver Bayliss by chinook

Assistant Judge Advocate General Edward Legard said the board were troubled by Bayliss’s “absence of remorse or understanding”.

“There has been an element of victim blaming and minimisation of your actions and you have shown an unwarranted sense of entitlement,” he said.

Judge Advocate Legard added: “You said you would be able to get more girls than she could men, which displays a worrying attitude towards women in general.”

The court found he posed a risk of harm to adult females due to the attitude shown in the wake of his offence.

The judge added: “This was a betrayal of the values and standards of the Royal Air Force and tarnishes the reputation of the officer corps.

“You wear the insignia on your sleeve for a reason, which is to uphold the highest standards of integrity and to lead by example.”

‘I felt like a burden to my family’

In a personal statement read by the victim via a video link, she said she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and suffered from nightmares about the attack.

She said: “I felt like a burden to my family and friends and due to the impact of the sexual assault, I attempted suicide in June when I felt I could no longer cope.”

She added: “The only glimmer of a silver lining is that I hope this has taught Oliver Bayliss that he cannot behave in that way.”

Bayliss had his sentence reduced from the two year starting point to 18 months, partly due to his distinguished career, which included active service in Afghanistan, Iraq and West Africa.

He was told he would serve half his sentence – in a civilian jail after being cleared through the military prison at Colchester – before he would be eligible for release.

A tearful Bayliss, of Harrogate, North Yorks, shook his head as he was marched from the court after being dismissed from the RAF in disgrace.

Emma Norton, solicitor and director of the Centre for Military Justice, said the victim’s feeling of being ostracised by the air force was not unusual for servicewomen who report sexual assault in the Armed Forces.

She said: “The experiences of this woman after she reported an extremely serious sexual assault seem to reflect those of all the servicewomen we are supporting.”