Former Deepcut trainer jailed for sex attacks

A sado-masochistic ex-training instructor from the controversial Deepcut army barracks was sentenced to four and half years in jail today for a catalogue of sex attacks on young male soldiers.

Kingston Crown Court heard how Leslie Skinner, 46, took advantage of his apparent superiority 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, Lincolnshire, had already been convicted of a sexual offence by an army court martial before he was sent to Deepcut where he carried out the bulk of his attacks.

The court heard that Skinner had been convicted of indecently exposing himself to a 17-year-old boy by a court martial in the Maze Prison in Northern Ireland in 1996 where 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 now married with two young 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 today the judge formally quashed the outstanding charges.

Skinner's activities first 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 kicks.

During one attack Skinner used of a Black and Decker Workmate.

The court heard that following the incidents for which he was convicted today he was also court martialled for a further indecent assault and jailed for six months before being discharged from the army.

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