A former Naval Service instructor who slapped a new recruit on the buttocks has been put on a probation bond for a year after pleading guilty to a single count of sexual assault.

Derek Nagle, of Kilmona, Grenagh, Co Cork, has since resigned from the Navy.

On 1 March of last year, Seana O'Connor was a new recruit in the Navy.

She was in the Transit Room, the male living accommodation at the Naval Service base at Haulbowline in Cork Habrour, sitting on another recruit's bed, chatting.

Leading Seaman Derek Nagle came in and shouted at her, asking her what she was doing there.

Seana O'Connor said she was just getting something, and she apologised.

Derek Nagle sat on the bed beside her, put one of his hands behind her back and the other on the back of her neck and pushed her forward, so that her face was towards the floor.

He slapped her forcefully on the buttocks and repeated that he thought she liked it rough.

Seana O'Connor fell to her knees.

As she was fixing her uniform, Derek Nagle winked at her and said: "You're lucky it wasn't 14 or 15 years ago."

The incident was witnessed by a number of other Naval Service recruits who were in the room.

Seana O'Connor reported the incident, and an investigation was conducted by military police.

She waived her right to anonymity and in her victim impact statement she told Cork District Court that Derek Nagle had broken her.

She said she passed all her courses, finished her training and went to sea, but inside she said she was breaking and still is.

She said she could not thank the Naval Service enough for providing counselling, but she suffered nightmares and breakdowns.

She said the incident should not have happened.

Derek Nagle, who is 56, joined the Navy in 1985 and served for 37 years. He resigned after this incident.

His barrister, Ronan Barnes, said he was instructed to apologise to Seana O'Connor and said Derek Nagle could not explain why it happened.

Judge Marian O'Leary adjourned the case for three months in February, to allow for the preparation of a report on Derek Nagle by the Probation Service.

When the case was called this morning, Mr Barnes told Judge O'Leary that the report was completed and that it was favourable.

Judge O'Leary said she had read the report "and I go with it". She put Derek Nagle on a probation bond for 12 months, on his own bond of €300.

Effectively, this means he must obey the directions of the Probation Service for the next year. Derek Nagle left the court after signing the bond a short time later.

Seana O'Connor was not in court for the hearing.

In a statement, the Defence Forces commended what it described as the courage of Seana O'Connor for reporting the incident and for delivering her victim impact statement to the court.

"The Defence Forces has a zero-tolerance approach to inappropriate behaviour, sexual misconduct and any form of criminal behaviour," the Defence Forces said in its statement.

"The Defence Forces encourages any victim of such behaviour to report it immediately. All reports of sexual misconduct reported to the Defence Forces will be referred to An Garda Síochána."

A spokesperson for the Defence Forces said it continues to offer a range of supports and services to Seana O'Connor.