A FORMER soldier with a “glittering” army career tried to persuade a teenage girl he met through facebook to send him pictures of herself naked, a court heard.
Michael Barnard, 46, was living in Saxon Court, Tidworth, in June last year when he contacted the 14-year-old through the social networking site.
Prosecuting at Salisbury Crown Court on Friday, Anita Gibson-Lee said the girl clearly told Barnard early on in the conversation that she was only 14 and tried to find out his age, but he just referred to himself as “over 19” and was using a picture of himself taken when he was in his 20s.
She said: “The conversation very quickly developed into a conversation with a sexual element and he asked her to send him a photograph of herself naked. The conversation was not threatening but it was a direct request in a highly explicit conversation with a child.”
The girl said there wasn’t a camera on the iPad she was using and did not send a picture. A few days later her mother found the conversation and sent a message to Barnard and to members of his family alerting them to what he had done.
Defending Barnard, Nick Cotter said that he had been through a troubled time and that after 26 years as an “exemplary soldier” with a “glittering career in the military” he had struggled to adapt to civilian life.
Mr Cotter said Barnard turned to alcohol and painkillers and was a “lonely man” but accepted responsibility for what he had done and wanted to get help.
Recorder Maria Lamb said Barnard’s behaviour was “not only criminal but thoroughly disgusting for a man of your age”.
She said the best protection for the public would be to give him a community order with 36 months’ supervision and a sex offenders group work programme so that any risk he poses can be properly managed.
Barnard, who now lives in Milford Haven, Dyfed Powys, was also told to sign the sex offenders register and made the subject of a Sexual Offences Prevention Order for five years.