Former King’s horseman faces jail for raping three female trainee instructors aged 17 to 19
After being found guilty of raping three teenage trainee instructors at a high-ranking residential riding school in Scotland, one of King’s former horsemen faces jail.
Chris, also known as James Christopher Armour, was on leave from work when he raped three girl trainees, aged 17 to 19, who were living in the yard, in Fife, in the 1980s.
The High Court in Stirling heard on Thursday Monday 23, how the prestigious school, the Dunvegan Equestrian Centre, Newburgh, was then run by his stepmother Jane Armour, who was a highly regarded dressage judge and ‘trainer of trainers.
The Royal Horse Artillery bombardier served nine years in the King’s Troop. This troop is well-known for its horse teams, which pull 13-pounder guns on royal occasions, take part in Trooping of the Colour, and guard the Horse Guards Parade.
He was also an Army showjumper and continued to events in civilian life.
He has even featured on the cover of Horse & Hound magazine in 2010.
The high court heard that Armour’s victims had ‘dark memories’ of his actions for many decades.
One of the teens saw a TV advertisement for Rape Crisis in 2019 and reached out to the police, who launched Operation Cliftok to investigate the abuse of girls at the center.
The woman, who is now also 57, told the court that in 1983, Armour – then a complete stranger whom she’d never met or even seen before – had suddenly walked into a stable where she was working, kicked her between the legs, ‘shoved’ her against the wall, and raped her.
Over the next two years, he went on to rape her frequently when on leave – on the stable floor, on the kitchen floor, and in her bedroom at the center’s three-storey mansion, Dunvegan House, grabbing her breasts and punching her in the stomach.
And on one occasion, he came up behind her while she was washing horses’ bits in a tack room sink, hit her on the bottom with a riding crop, then grabbed her by the hair and held her head under the taps for ‘minutes’, before pulling off her jodhpurs and raping her.
She said: ‘I felt sick. I was just crying all the time.’
His second victim, now a 59-year-old farmer, said she was at the center in the last quarter of 1985 when she was woken from sleep by her bedroom floorboards squeaking.
Armour came in, put his hand over her mouth, and told her to be silent, before pulling back the bedcovers and raping her. He then turned her over and raped her again, anally.
After he finished, he left, and she staggered to the bathroom, bleeding and in pain.
Explaining why she had not reported the rape then, or challenged Armour at the time, she said: ‘I was scared.
‘I was a naive young girl.
‘It was the start of my career.
‘If I’d opened my mouth I’d not have had 30 to 40 years with horses. That’s what I thought.’
She added: ‘In those days there wasn’t any help. You shut up. You blocked it out. You got on with your life.
‘You didn’t talk about those things.’
Armour’s third victim – who was also raped in her bedroom in Dunvegan House in the late ’80s, when she was 17 – was studying for her British Horse Society Assistant Instructor Certificate (BHSAI).
Now 53, she said Armour came in, smelling of drink, and they began consensually kissing. However, then he got on top of her and raped her, despite her trying to push him off and repeatedly saying ‘no’.
Clearly distressed giving evidence, she told the jury she had ‘shut it all down at the time’.
She said: ‘I think it was a survival instinct. It was embarrassing. I didn’t think for one moment I’d be believed.’
Armour, who was living when the trial began at an Army veterans’ home in Congleton, Cheshire, denied the rapes.
He went on to claim in evidence that all the women were ‘fantasists’, saying he’d never had sex with the first woman as ‘she wasn’t the prettiest thing in the world.’
He claimed he had never met the second woman, and that intercourse with the third had been consensual, adding: ‘I left her satisfied.’
After a five-day trial, jurors took three hours to find Armour guilty of all three rapes, which were committed between March 1983 and June 1989.
He showed no emotion as the verdict was returned on March 23.
Judge Lord Young deferred sentence until April 25th at the High Court in Edinburgh and revoked bail.
He said: ‘Given the seriousness of these matters he will be remanded in custody.’
Armour, who has previous convictions for battery in England, was also placed on the sex offenders’ register.
Gary Allan KC, defending, reserved mitigation.
Referring to the initial call to the police, prosecutor Chris Fyffe KC said one woman’s ‘Me Too’ moment had ‘shone a torch on the dark memories all three women had held, and struggled to come to terms with… for over 35 years’.
He added that Armour, ‘a muscular young solider’, had ‘used his physical attributes to overpower girls at Dunvegan for his own sexual gratification, taking what he wanted regardless of their wishes’.
Mr. Fyffe also said the victims had given ‘clear and compelling accounts’ of being raped by Armour.