Army officer jailed for filming children - AGAIN

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smyth.Pic: SWNS

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smyth.Pic: SWNS - Credit: Adam Gray

A ‘DEVIOUS’ senior army officer from Nailsea has been jailed after being caught secretly filming children just months after escaping prison for similar offences.

Lieutenant Colonel Mark Smyth appeared at Swansea Crown Court on Monday after he was seen videoing a six-year-old girl changing into a wetsuit on a beach.

The 43-year-old had been visiting Whitesands Bay in St Davids, Pembrokeshire, with his wife and children when the incident happened on August 3.

Just three months before, he avoided jail when he appeared at Bristol Crown Court for making and possessing thousands of indecent images of children which he shared online.

The court heard how he had prowled supermarket aisles near his barracks at Tidworth, Wiltshire, taking up-skirt pictures and had also spied on children in swimming pool changing rooms.

At that hearing in May he was handed a sexual offences prevention order and placed on the sex offenders’ register.

Despite this, the commanding officer in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers was allowed to keep his job.

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Referring to the latest charges, prosecutor Brian Simpson told Swansea Crown Court on Monday: “He was seen holding a smaller silver-grey camera and looking at a family, a young girl in particular who was naked and being changed into a wetsuit.

“The family were completely oblivious but the coastguard was alerted by other holidaymakers.”

The police were called and arrested Smyth who was seen trying to hide the camera under his car bonnet.

He later admitted 16 charges of taking indecent photos of children and possessing 29 such images. He also admitted breaching his sexual offences prevention order.

Jailing Smyth for two-and-a-half years, Judge Paul Thomas said: “You are an extremely intelligent man who achieved a rank of Lieutenant Colonel, a privilege obtained by very few. But privilege comes with responsibility.

“You knew before how lucky you were to retain this rank but within just a few weeks you reoffended in a deliberate and cunning way.

“This had all the hallmarks of a devious and calculating individual who can only be stopped by the deprivation of liberty.”

Smyth, of Briar Close, was also ordered to sign the sex offenders’ register indefinitely and was given a new sexual offences prevention order to run indefinitely. This bans him from swimming pools, children’s play areas and schools.

He will also lose his military career and his £1.1million pension.

* Copy courtesy of Wales News Service.