November 2010

Soldier Gavin Booth sent lewd texts to girls

A soldier who sent lewd texts to young girls and was caught by his wife with 500 indecent images has been sentenced to 225 hours of community service.

Cpl Gavin Booth, 30, who was based at Redford Barracks in Edinburgh, asked one 13-year-old girl to send him pictures of her in her underwear.

Booth admitted carrying out the offences between June 2007 and August 2009 in Edinburgh.

He said he had a sexual interest in girls aged between 14 and 19.

However, Booth, who now lives in North Shields, did also say he had an obsession with going on the internet rather than actual sex.

Distributing pictures

At an earlier hearing fiscal depute Melanie Ward told Edinburgh Sheriff Court: “His wife accessed various e-mail accounts used by the accused and found e-mails from teenage girls aged 14 and 16 years.

“These e-mails were effectively from the social networking siteFacebook and confirmed they had accepted his friend request and further established he was purporting to be between 18 and 19 years old.”

Ms Ward said Mrs Booth was concerned about this but one of her friends reported it to the army unit welfare officer who reported it to the Ministry of Defence Police.

A search of Booth’s home was carried out and computers and mobile telephones were seized.

The court heard when Booth was interviewed he admitted having the images and distributing some of them to contacts.

Defence agent Duncan Hughes said: “As far as the offences are concerned there were no images at level five, which is the most serious level, the majority were at the lower end of the scale.”

Mr Hughes said Booth, who was in the 3rd Rifles, had served in Northern Ireland, Sierra Leone, Iraq and Afghanistan, joined the army when he was 16.

He added that a prison sentence would mean he would be put out of the army straight away.

Sheriff James Scott said: “It is a serious matter and I would have been justified to impose a custodial sentence but I am persuaded that the public interest would be best served by imposing a period of probation that takes into account the remarks made by Mr Hughes about the level of the images and also that you have served in the army for all these years and seen active service in four different areas of the world.”

Booth was put on probation for three years and will also be on the sex offenders register for the same period of time.