An ‘entitled’ RAF squadron Leader will serve just nine months in jail for subjecting a fellow RAF officer to a degrading sexual assault which drove her to try to hill herself.
Oliver Bayliss, 36, showed no remorse for the assault at a social occasion in 2022, telling a probation worker he did not need to assault his victim because he was more attractive than her.
The military court at Catterick heard that he boasted: ‘I could get more girls than she could men.’
His victim said she felt ‘ostracised’ by the air force, while her attacker was allowed to continue his duties as normal.
She said she was ordered to work from home after raising concerns that their paths might cross in the line of duty and six months after the assault she tried to take her own life.
Oliver Bayliss (pictured), 36, showed no remorse for the assault at a social occasion in 2022
Although Bayliss, a married father, was considered a potential risk to adult women and displayed a ‘worrying attitude’ towards them, he had his sentence reduced from the two-year starting point to 18 months.
A part of the reason for this was his distinguished career, which saw him on active service in Afghanistan, Iraq and West Africa.
He was told he would serve half his sentence, which will be served in a civilian jail after being cleared through the military prison at Colchester before he was eligible for release.
A tearful Bayliss, of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, shook his head as he was marched from the court after being dismissed from the RAF in disgrace.
His victim read out a personal statement about the trauma she suffered via a video link.
She said: ‘Being ordered to work from home afterwards while the man who assaulted me continued to be in his office left me feeling ostracised.
‘I felt as though I had no control over my life. I was diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder and had nightmares about the attack which left me feeling exhausted.
‘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.’
While Bayliss was considered a potential risk to adult women, he had his sentence reduced from the two-year starting point to 18 months. Pictured: Oliver Bayliss
She needed emergency hospital treatment in the wake of the suicide attempt, the hearing was told.
The victim added: ‘The only glimmer of a silver lining is that I hope this has taught Oliver Bayliss that he cannot behave in that way.’
The court heard that the assault took place as Bayliss’s victim tried to get away from him when she saw his wedding ring.
They were not known to each other when they met on the night out at a military base in the south of England, where Bayliss was celebrating his promotion to Squadron Leader.
After talking, they went outside and began kissing, but at that point the female officer noticed he was wearing a wedding ring and pulled away from him, intending to go back into the mess hall.
It was then that Bayliss thrust his hand up her skirt and sexually assaulted her, causing her to flee the event with her friends in a state of distress.
The attack left her feeling ‘filthy and disgusting’ and she went to the police to report it the following day.
Bayliss claimed the sexual contact had been consensual and that the woman had instigated it, denying the offence of assault by penetration and forcing her to give evidence in a trial.
However, he was found guilty by the court martial board, who found the victim’s account that she had not wished to be with a married man, truthful.
Assistant Judge Advocate General Edward Legard told Bayliss: ‘The Board is troubled by your 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.’
Bayliss, of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, (far left) shook his head as he was marched from the court after being dismissed from the RAF in disgrace. Pictured: The 2019 Chinook display team Bayliss led
During a pre-sentence interview with a probation officer, Bayliss said he had no reason to assault the woman.
Judge Advocate Legard said: ‘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 advocate 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.’
Andrew Molloy, mitigating, said that the incident had brought an end to Bayliss’s marriage and he was now separated from his young children and living in a flat.
He said: ‘Squadron Leader Bayliss has suffered mental health problems which cannot be understated. He was signed off from flying due to these mental health issues and has needed to take time off.
‘His marriage is now over although his wife has provided a character reference for him to be considered by the court.’
In 2019 Bayliss, a crack pilot, was made manager of the RAF’s elite Chinook helicopter display team which tours airfields around the world.
A press release at the time said he would be: ‘Charged with the organisation of the team, from training schedules to fuel and sponsorship,’ adding: ‘Oli is key to the running of the Team.’
Emma Norton, Director and Solicitor with 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.
‘After she reports a sexual assault, typically she is ostracised, unsupported and made to feel like she is the problem.
‘Lots of our clients have been warned about the potential impact of their allegation on the career of the man, with a striking lack of concern demonstrated for their own career or welfare.
‘The policy that sets out how sexual assault victims are supposed to be supported is routinely and systematically ignored in the CMJ’s experience. The result is frequently career-ending for the women concerned.’
The group has campaigned for all sexual assaults committed in a military environment to be taken away from the military courts.
Ms Norton said: ‘Fundamental reforms that have been recommended by so many independent bodies – such as ensuring truly independent handling of sexual harassment complaints outside of the Army, and serious criminal cases being sent to the civil criminal justice system.’
Post source: The List