A top-ranking Army officer who admitted being a Peeping Tom and secretly filming children in swimming pools and supermarkets narrowly avoided jail today.
Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smyth prowled shop aisles near his barracks with his phone in the bottom of shopping baskets taking ‘upskirt’ pictures.
The 43-year-old also spied on children in changing rooms at swimming pools – and made movies from his images.
He uploaded them to film-sharing sites where fellow voyeurs could see them and told police he ‘felt good’ when he got positive feedback.
Smyth also uploaded the sick videos to a Russian paedophile website where he traded the passwords to his images for other images of child abuse.
When caught Smyth described himself as ‘a lovely man’ and insisted he had no sexual interest in children.
But a court heard he changed his name to Mark Radway after his arrest and before his first court appearence.
The offences spanned nearly two years between January 2011 and November 2012 when Smyth was based at Tidworth barracks in Wiltshire.
He was then a serving Lieutenant Colonel in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers.
Smyth pleaded guilty to six counts of taking an indecent photograph of a girl and six counts of distributing an indecent photograph of children.
The soldier also admitted three counts of making an indecent image of a child, and one count of possessing more than 4000 indecent images of children.
Smyth was handed a three-year community order and ordered to undergo the 60-day Thames Valley Sex Offenders group work programme.
He was also banned from being alone with a child, or surfing the internet and deleting web history, for ten years and placed on the sex offenders’ register for five years.
Nadeem Aullybocus (corr), prosecuting, said: “He filmed them in swimming pools, beaches, swimming pools and in public changing room and showers.
“They were all females, they range from the age of five to 16. He said it started as a game of risk, which was all about the thrill and the adrenaline rush.
“He began using the phone in supermarkets to see what he could get. He went into the changing rooms to see what he could get away with.”
He added: “He was adamant in interview he did not have any sexual interest in children.”
Married dad-of-two Smyth, currently living with his family in Nailsea, Somerset, was caught when the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre identified his user name GhengisKhan4321 on the film-sharing website.
In total, his haul of images contained more than 5000 sick photos and videos of children, including hundreds in the two worst categories, and bestiality.
But police say that does not include the thousands he wiped from four computers days before he was arrested.
The videos he made himself feature girls ranging in age from five to 16, in a variety of places, including shops, swimming pools, the beach and even in public showers.
Prosecutors say as well as a camera and a phone he filmed children with a tiny bullet shaped ‘dogcam’ which he dangled over and under doorways.
Rosaleen Collins, defending, said: “This is a case with no contact offending. It is the opposite in fact.”
Judge Geoffrey Mercer said: “Mark Stephen Radway, I have to sentence you for a total of 16 offences which relate to indecent images of children.
“You pleaded guilty to those at the first possible opportunities. The matter of your offending has been outlined to me and the court has heard it.
“The most sickening part of it is that you took those photographs. They are not sexual photographs, they are images of children taken by you in showers, in other instances a camera up their skirt in a supermarket which you have placed on your computer and shared over the internet. You are a family man.
“Quite what caused you to commit those offences perhaps not even you really know. They are shameful offences and you are I expect fully ashamed of them.”
Because of his conviction for child sex offences, Smyth stands to lose more than #1million because of loss of earnings and pension, the court heard.
The Ministry of Defence refused to comment on Radway’s future.
However, a senior source said: “I am sure what will happen now is the the Army will take administrative action against him, which could lead to his dismissal.
“Given the nature of these offences I would be very surprised if he didn’t face that now.”
Speaking after the sentence, DI Mark Coleman, said: “During this period, Smyth targeted young girls in public places to film them, producing indecent images of them without their knowledge.
“This sentence sends a clear message to those engaging in this type of activity, that we wave sophisticated systems that will enable us to identify you.”