An Air Force trainee has opened up about how he was allegedly tortured and indecently assaulted in the common room of a barracks.
Disturbing video of the attack shows Alister French on the floor at Latchford Barracks near Wodonga, Victoria, with his hands, feet, head, and mouth heavily duct-taped.
An older airman allegedly hits and chokes Mr French, then throws chili powder in his eyes, tries to set his hair alight, pours hot water from a kettle on his face and pushes his exposed penis against the trainee’s head.
The alleged attacker, who is serving member in the ADF, also takes a phone call, telling the person on the other end: ‘I’ve got to go, I’m torturing Frenchy.’
In the vision shown on 7.30 Report last night, Alister French, a trainee in the Air Force, is seen with his hands, feet, head and mouth heavily duct-taped while sitting on the floor of a common room at Latchford Barracks near Wodonga, Victoria
Mr French said the alleged attack last year, which lasted up to 45 minutes, began as a joke he consented to – but quickly escalated.
‘I allowed them to tie my hands and my feet, but it escalated very quickly into me being fully restrained,’ he said.
‘I was quite sacred and fearful for my life. It’s still very difficult for myself to go over that night.
‘Look at the footage. I still to this day have nightmares and night terrors of the incident happening.’
Mr French’s mother Lisa said her son was ‘broken both mentally and physically’ by the abuse and was medically discharged from the ADF this year, just two years into a six-year traineeship.
‘The son we received home is not the son we sent,’ she said.
‘The son we received home is not the son we sent,’ Lisa French (left) said of the alleged treatment her son Alister (right) received as a RAAF trainee
‘When he showed me, I was speechless, I couldn’t believe what I saw. It’s bastardisation and it seems to be accepted.’
The ADF said Mr French’s claims were investigated in 2020 but the video was a ‘new allegation’.
‘We strongly encourage any material evidence of such behaviour be referred immediately to the civilian police for investigation,’ it said.
Victoria Police said it responded to reports of an incident at the barracks but was not able to establish a criminal offence was committed.
Mr French’s lawyer Mick Bainbridge, from Operation Legal Australia, said the behaviour was the worst he had seen and a civil action would be commenced on the former trainee’s behalf.
‘I don’t think at this point it’s an allegation. I think the torture is not in dispute,’ Mr Bainbridge told the program.
‘I’ll send this very clear message to anybody within the Australian Defence Force that that behaviour is completely unacceptable’ Defence Minister Peter Dutton said after the video was aired on 7.30 Report
Defence Minister Peter Dutton, who appeared on 7.30 report immediately after the story, described the video as ‘very disturbing’.
‘I feel for Alister, for his family,’ he said.
‘I’ll send this very clear message to anybody within the Australian Defence Force that that behaviour is completely unacceptable.’
Mr French joined the RAAF aged 19 and said he ‘thrived in that environment’ at first, winning two merit awards.
‘We couldn’t stop smiling,’ Ms French said of her son. ‘He made us extremely proud.’