By Christine Lavelle
A SCOTS based soldier asked teenage girls to send him pictures of themselves in their underwear and kept more than 500 indecent images of children on his computer.
Corporal Gavin Booth, 30, based at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh with 3 Rifles, admitted possessing and distributing images of children, sending text messages to teenage girls which were both “sexual and lewd” in nature and contacting underage girls online.
Booth pled guilty to four charges which happened between June 2007 and August 2009, but pled not guilty to a charge of making his own indecent images.
Today (Tue) Edinburgh Sheriff Court heard how his wife had logged onto his laptop while he was away on a camping trip, and found emails confirming friend requests he had sent to girls aged between 14 and 19 on the social networking site Facebook.
Procurator Fiscal Melanie Ward said: “His wife was concerned but it was one of her friends who reported it to the Army Welfare Manager, who then took it to the Ministry of Defence Police.”
On August 28 last year the Ministry of Defence issued a search warrant on Booth’s home in North Shields, and seized a number of computers and mobile phones.
Ms Ward said when Booth was cautioned he admitted he had made contact with two teenage girls, both under the age of 16, and admitted using the internet to search terms which would lead him to find underage websites.
She said: “When he was asked about images of children he admitted downloading some and that he had received some others through email and through contacts on MSN Messenger.
“He admitted having a sexual interest in girls aged between 14 and 19, but claimed to have had an obsession with the internet rather than with actual sex.”
Booth also admitted distributing some images to these “contacts”.
The Court heard that when asked about his interaction with young girls, Booth had said he had asked two teenagers aged 14 and 15 to send him pictures of themselves in their underwear.
He also admitted asking the 15-year-old girl “personal questions” about her body on MSN Messenger.
More than 500 images were found on his laptop, all ranging between levels one and four on the ‘SAP’ scale, which measures the different levels of indecent images.
The Court also heard that since first appearing in January this year, Booth has been allowed no unsupervised visits with his five-year-old child.
Booth’s lawyer Duncan Hughes requested a social inquiry report before proceeding to trial, and Sheriff James Scott said he would like a statement from Booth’s Commanding Officer.
Sheriff Scott also reminded the accused that he would have to comply with the terms of the Sexual Offences Act 2003.
He is now scheduled to be sentenced next month.