HALIFAX - Four members of the British navy charged with sexual assault causing bodily harm were granted bail Monday on a number of conditions including that they reside at a Halifax military base until their next court appearance.A provincial court judge ordered Simon Radford, Joshua Finbow, Craig Stoner and Darren Smalley to be released from custody to CFB Stadacona, provide a $3,000 cash surety, not contact the alleged victim and return to court May 27.Michael O'Sullivan, the naval and air adviser to the British High Commission, quickly drove the men away in a white sport utility vehicle."The allegations are serious and we are ensuring that we assist the Canadian authorities with their investigation," O'Sullivan said outside court before picking up the men.The men, who wore Royal Navy hockey team jerseys in court, did not comment as they hopped into O'Sullivan's vehicle.They were in Nova Scotia participating in a hockey tournament with local Armed Forces personnel when they were arrested Thursday morning, the Crown said outside court last Friday.They are alleged to have participated in a "group sexual assault'' on April 10 in a barracks at CFB Shearwater, another military base in Halifax, the Crown said."These charges ... are serious offences," Crown attorney Eric Taylor said Monday outside court, adding that they carry a potential sentence of up to 14 years in prison.The Crown agreed with the bail conditions after negotiations with the Canadian Forces, the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service and the Royal Navy, Taylor said. Another factor in consenting to bail was the fact that none of the accused have criminal records, he added.He said the men will be allowed to come and go from CFB Stadacona as they wish provided they obey their bail conditions.The commanding officer of the Canadian Forces National Investigation Service, which investigates serious matters relating to the Defence Department, said the allegations of sexual assault against the sailors is disturbing.In a statement last week, Lt.-Col. Francis Bolduc said British authorities have co-operated with the investigation.Taylor said the case is proceeding in a civilian court because the offences were allegedly committed against a female civilian and the men were off-duty at the time.Follow @mtuttoncporg on Twitter.
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