Deepcut instructor given four and a half years for sex attacks

Click to follow
The Independent Online

A sado-masochistic former training instructor at Deepcut army barracks was sentenced to four and a half years in prison yesterday for sexual attacks on young male soldiers.

A sado-masochistic former training instructor at Deepcut army barracks was sentenced to four and a half years in prison yesterday for sexual attacks on young male soldiers.

Leslie Skinner, 46, took advantage of his position to prey on four young men during the 1990s - three at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey and one, earlier, at Arnhem Barracks in Aldershot.

Skinner, of Marton, near Gainsborough in Lincolnshire, had already been convicted of a sexual offence by a court martial before he was sent to Deepcut where he committed most of his attacks.

Kingston Crown Court heard that Skinner had been convicted of indecently exposing himself to a 17-year-old by a court martial at the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in 1996. He was reduced in rank to private. But rather than being discharged from the Army he was sent to Deepcut.

Judge Charles Tilling said: "For some reason best known to itself, the Army then placed you in a position where you were in contact with and had influence over young recruits. Far from heeding the warning that your reduction in rank should have given you, you proceeded to indecently assault another three young vulnerable soldiers.

"Those who enter the Army at that sort of age have and should expect to be able to have protection from this sort of behaviour." The judge told Skinner, who is married with two children aged four and six, that he would be jailed for two years on one count of indecent assault and a further two and a half years for a further four.

Skinner had been due to stand trial at Kingston Crown Court in September, facing nine charges of indecent assault and one of male rape. But he changed his plea at the 11th hour and admitted five counts of indecent assault. Following an application from the prosecution yesterday the judge quashed the outstanding charges.

Skinner's activities came to light when one of his former victims decided to speak about the abuse after watching a discussion on the BBC's Kilroy programme. Four eventually came forward to tell police of assaults, ranging from one waking up to find Skinner performing a lewd act on him to others being made to take part in sado-masochistic sessions. At Deepcut, where he was a training instructor, Skinner kept canes and a riding crop in his locker, which he used for sexual gratification.

The court heard that after the incidents for which he was convictedhe was court-martialled for another indecent assault and jailed for six months before being discharged.

Detective Chief Inspector Peter O'Sullivan said: "We welcome the sentence.We hope that the justice achieved today enables victims to move on."

The victim of the indecent assault which led to Skinner's second court martial was David Leaning, who is still a serving army officer. Mr Leaning, now 26, who has given his permission to be named in the media, said: "It's something we've all been waiting for for a long time. I never felt justice was done when he was court-martialled."

Mr Leaning, who is taking the Army to court, said it was critical that Skinner had been sent to Deepcut despite his first court martial. He said: "After his first incident he should have been kicked out of the Army. Putting him in a position of authority in a young persons' environment, this shouldn't have happened, it was neglectful."