Sailor punched coworker in the face in takeout after jibing over noodle pick


A senior Royal Navy engineer has been convicted of unleashing a drunken punch in a Chinese takeout after another sailor mocked his choice of noodles.

Petty Officer Kris Cullerton punched his colleague Zeek Bowen after he told him his choice of a £ 7 vermicelli was “a little heavy after a night out”, a court martial has ruled.

The aerial engineering technician (AET) told a military tribunal that he ended up with a bloody nose and a swollen lip after his boss became “aggressive” towards him and his colleague Shaun Bush.

AET Bowen said the 33-year-old called him a “smart ****” and hit him, leaving his lip swollen and the face mask he was wearing “soaked” in blood.

Although PO Cullerton has denied any physical contact, he has now been convicted of one count of assault and battery.

Bulford Military Court, Wilts, learned that on October 2 last year the Sailors went to the Dolphin Inn and Bull pub in Ilchester, Somerset, while stationed at Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, also known as HMS Heron.

The court heard that PO Cullerton – a senior aerial engineering technician – had drunk up to eight pints of beer and admitted he was “drunk” when he went to the nearby Chinese restaurant, the chef de Beijing.

AET Bowen and AET Bush were already in fast food and waiting for their order. After AET Bowen made the comment on PO Cullerton’s food choice, AET Bush told the panel that the senior sailor started “yelling in his face” and “punching” his friend in the face.

AET Bush told the court: “He was mumbling to himself and was uncomfortable on his feet. He started yelling in my face but I couldn’t understand what he was saying. I was just in shock.

“It looked like an open hand in the face.”

The court heard that PO Cullerton, a married man and father from Sunderland, was then locked outside the takeout before he left, noodles in hand.

After PO Cullerton walked away, the two sailors – who had qualified just a year before the incident – decided it was safe to leave and returned to the pub to return to base with their colleagues.

The court heard that the men did not know each other before the incident and did not realize that they were all in the Navy.

Returning to base around 11 p.m., the young engineers then filed a complaint with the Royal Navy Police Force and PO Cullerton was subsequently questioned. In a statement to police on duty read in court, PO Cullerton said only verbal disagreement occurred in the take-out joint because his “pride got in the way”.

The court martial heard allegations that PO Cullerton then accosted the sailors on the street. However, he was found not guilty of three counts of assault and battery related to these allegations.

PO Cullerton, whose career spans more than 14 years, is to be sentenced on December 10.