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Last Updated: Friday, 22 October, 2004, 16:52 GMT 17:52 UK
Deepcut Army sex attacker jailed
Leslie Skinner
Skinner admitted five sex attacks on young soldiers
A former training instructor at Deepcut Army barracks in Surrey has been jailed for four-and-a-half years for sex attacks on young male soldiers.

Leslie Skinner, 46, of Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, pleaded guilty at Kingston Crown Court last month.

Skinner, who served with the Royal Logistics Corps, admitted five indecent assaults between 1992 and 1997 on four male soldiers.

Deepcut features in the ongoing row over the deaths of four recruits.

'Vulnerable young men'

The Army maintains the recruits all committed suicide, but their families have demanded a public inquiry.

The separate police inquiry into Skinner's crimes began when one of his victims watched a discussion on the BBC's Kilroy programme which prompted him to speak about the abuse for the first time.

The Army then placed you in a position where you were in contact with and had influence over young recruits
Judge Charles Tilling
Skinner's victims were aged between 17 and 21. Three victims were at Deepcut while the fourth victim was at Arnhem Barracks in Aldershot.

Skinner, who kept canes and a riding crop in his locker which he used for sexual kicks, 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 and admitted five counts of indecent assault. The outstanding charges were quashed by the judge on Friday.

The married father of two, who is no longer in the Army, was a training instructor when he served at Deepcut with the Royal Logistics Corps.

He was sent to Deepcut and reduced to the rank of private after being convicted by a court martial for indecently exposing himself in a car park in Lisburn, Northern Ireland.

'Swept under carpet'

Judge Charles Tilling told Skinner on Friday: "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."

The court heard that following the incidents for which he was sentenced on Friday he was also court martialled for a further indecent assault and jailed for six months before being discharged from the Army.

Outside court on Friday, the victim of that further assault said: "After being court martialled and demoted he should never have been put in a place of authority and a training regiment with young men and women."

'Sexual predator'

Diane Gray, the mother of Geoff Gray, 17, from Durham, one of the four recruits who died at Deepcut, said outside court on Friday that the Army needed to make changes.

"The Army knew what was going on with Skinner and it was all swept under the carpet," she said.

"Public confidence needs to be restored."

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: "This has been a traumatic case and the Army fully condemns any case of abuse.

"All complaints are thoroughly investigated.

"The Army fully co-operated with Surrey Police as soon as the allegations were received."

He said the Army had subsequently changed its procedures to ensure soldiers convicted of a similar offence were not posted to training establishments.

Surrey Police welcomed the sentence.

"Skinner was a sexual predator who preyed on young men in his care," said Det Ch Insp Peter O'Sullivan.

"We hope that the justice achieved today enables the victims to move on and acts as a closure to these dramatic events in their lives."

Skinner's record of sexual assaults

TelegraphJail for Deepcut sex attacker - 39 hrs ago
Independent Deepcut instructor given four and a half years for sex attacks - 41 hrs ago
Guardian Unlimited Jail for army instructor who preyed on recruits - 41 hrs ago
Daily Mail Ex-Deepcut trainer jailed for sex attacks - 53 hrs ago
Sky News Deepcut Trainer Sentenced For Sex Assaults - 58 hrs ago
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Ex-soldier denies sex charges
26 Aug 03 |  England

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