September 2016: Now released and currently staying in a hostel in Manchester

February 2012

Jailed: Disgraced Gulf War hero from Crumpsall who raped teenage girl

A shamed hero soldier has been jailed for sex offences – despite claiming he couldn’t have abused two schoolgirls because Gulf War Syndrome made him impotent.

Michael McHugh was commended for bravery and leadership after he ran into a hail of bullets and shells to help the wounded during the 1990s war in Bosnia.

But now he has been jailed for 11 years after a Manchester Crown Court jury found him guilty of rape, sexual assault, sexual touching, voyeurism and assault dating back to 2010.

McHugh lured an under-age teenage girl into his bedroom before sexually assaulting and raping her.

He had physically assaulted her on a previous occasion, the court heard. His second victim, also an under-age teenage girl, was touched, leered at and spied on by McHugh, who made sleazy remarks about her body shape but told her ‘I’m not a pervert’.

McHugh had denied all the offences, saying there was no truth in the ‘disgusting’ allegations.

He told the jury he had showed symptoms of Gulf War Syndrome since serving in the conflict in 1990 and it is understood he had been formally diagnosed with the condition.

But the jury rejected his claims and returned unanimous guilty verdicts. The court heard that the former lance corporal, of Parkhill Avenue, Crumpsall, served all over the world during his seven-year career. But after returning to civilian life his mental and physical health sharply declined.

Sentencing, Judge David Stockdale QC said the rape offence was despicable and that both victims would be affected for the rest of their lives.

He added: “There is some good in you. You have served your country in the armed forces, you were commended in 1993 – probably in part because of your active service you now suffer a genuine psychological disorder, a complex disorder, in particular you suffer manic depression. Your psychological disorder in no way excuses or explains your offending against these young girls and does not require me to pass an order under the Mental Health Act.”