England

Tidworth Army officer avoids jail over indecent images

An Army officer who secretly filmed children as young as five in swimming pools and at supermarkets been spared a jail sentence.

Lt Col Mark Radway, 42, from Nailsea, North Somerset, also took "up-skirt" films and photographs of children near his barracks in Tidworth, Wiltshire.

He was suspended by the Army after pleading guilty to making, taking and distributing indecent images.

Radway was given a three-year community order and three-year supervision order.

Sentencing him at Bristol Crown Court, Judge Geoffrey Mercer QC told Radway he would also have to complete a 60-day sex offenders programme.

Film-sharing websites

Radway, who changed his name from Mark Stephen Smyth in March this year, took the images of children - aged five to 16 - between January 2011 and November 2012.

The officer, from the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, uploaded the content on to film-sharing websites.

He was caught when the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre identified his username.

Radway, who was in charge of a battalion, admitted six charges of distributing, six charges of taking and four charges of making indecent images.

Judge Mercer said: "The most serious part of it in my judgment is that you took these photographs.

"You have essentially lost your military career. That in itself is a considerable punishment."

Radway was found to have downloaded 4,992 images classified in categories one to five - including seven classed at category five - the most serious.

Officers also found 15 videos ranging from category one to four and 16 other prohibited images.

'Game of risk'

Nadeem Aullybocus, prosecuting, said that after downloaded those images Radway went on to take up to 43 others.

"He (in a police interview) said it all started as a game of risk which was all about the thrill and adrenaline rush," Mr Aullybocus said.

The officer destroyed four computers before police could seize them, meaning the full extent of his offending is not known, the court was told.

Rosaleen Collins, defending, said a custodial sentence would mean the loss of more than £1m to her client in lost earnings and pensions.

"What he had was a very distinguished career of duties in a number of places around the world, and in war zones," she said.

Miss Collins said Radway had no plans to return to service after being suspended by the Army.

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