Soldier admits pushing friend in throat

4:45 pm on 3 November 2015

A female soldier charged with assault has denied strangling her friend but says she did push her by the throat with an open palm.

Samantha Fraser

Samantha Fraser Photo: RNZ / Alexa Cook

Samantha Fraser, 24, has pleaded not guilty to three common assault charges in the military court at Linton Army Camp in Palmerston North, in relation to an incident during a January holiday in New Caledonia.

She has pleaded not guilty to kicking and grabbing her friend by the throat.

In the second day of the trial, Corporal Delia-Ana Meszaros from the New Zealand Military Police was interviewed as a witness because she took pictures of the friends' bruises and scratches.

Corporal Meszaros told the court that the pictures she took did not show the full extent of the bruising.

"In this photo, you can see the bruising a little bit, but in real life it was quite obvious and the colours were a lot stronger on the bruise."

The court then watched a military police interview from 5 February when the lead investigator, Flight Sergeant Murray Griffiths, interviewed Corporal Fraser.

In the video, Corporal Fraser said there was tension between the two friends because four days into the holiday they talked for the first time about a man that they had each had a relationship with at different times.

"It was big step for us because we'd never talked about it before, she was saying 'I can't really accept it, it's just too new for me, I just can't get my head around it'."

Corporal Fraser said there was definite tension between them and she felt her friend was making fun of her.

"I could tell our friendship was falling down from that trip; there were all these sniggers from the last week. I thought she would try and embarrass me in front of the guys".

Corporal Fraser said, on the night of the fight, her anger had boiled up and she asked her friend for the hotel key at the bar, so she could go home and drink vodka, but she wouldn't give it to her.

"She'd pushed my buttons and I was not talking nicely anymore, I was like 'give me my f****** room key right now'. I'd never sworn at her before, I was feeling her push me and push me and I was like 'before I get too angry I'll walk away'."

She said her friend followed her back to the hotel, and there was a disagreement on the road when she tried to get the keys, and once they were in the hotel room her friend started packing her bags to leave.

"I went over to her and grabbed her around the waist and grabbed her arm and I had to rip her arm off the door and I pushed her back and shut the door.

"At this stage I was like speaking pretty angrily... rude and aggressively... like 'you're making me want to punch you in the face, you have pushed me to my limit...'."

Corporal Fraser said her friend then tried to push back past her again to leave the room.

"I pushed her back by the throat, but just open palm, and she very purposely tripped over her bag and sort of fell on the bed and fell on the ground and I grabbed her by the shoulder and I was like 'you're just f***** acting'."

She said, because she was older and knew her friend often felt unsafe and vulnerable, she felt responsible for looking after her.

Corporal Fraser said she did not want her leaving the hotel on her own, so she grabbed a duvet and left the room, planning on sleeping outside the door.

Both Sergeant Griffiths and his assistant, Sergeant Simon Bamfield, said they did not interview or make contact with the hotel or the bar in Noumea.

Friends called up as witnesses

Several of the witnesses called up today were from other areas of the Defence Force and were on holiday with the two women.

Pilot Officer Max Longdill and his friend, Flying Officer Andrew Sunde, were in the same hotel as the two women.

The two men said the four of them spent most of their days sightseeing, swimming, dining and drinking together.

Pilot Officer Longdill said that no one seemed to be drinking excessively and the two women were close friends.

He said on the night of the alleged assault he remembered getting back to the hotel and seeing the friend with her bags in his and Flying Officer Sunde's room.

"She had a bruise on her upper thigh, I remember being a bit shocked by it."

Flying Officer Sunde said he did not remember seeing the two women argue over the room key or the vodka before they left, but he saw the friend later in the evening and she seemed to "have everything together".

The trial is expected to finish tomorrow.