An army cadets sergeant who tried to film boys in a toilet and sexually assaulted a child has been jailed for 21 months.
Police discovered dozens of indecent photographs of children as young as six months when they seized a laptop from Craig Bannatyne’s Motherwell home.
Bannatyne (22), of Linksview Road, was sentenced at Hamilton Sheriff Court. He admitted hiding a phone in a toilet of a cadet hall in another part of Lanarkshire in a bid to get images of boys in a state of undress.
Bannatyne also admitted sexually assaulting a boy of 12, sending messages of a sexual nature to a cadet and possession of child porn.
Callum Forsyth, prosecuting, said Bannatyne taped his phone to the wall of a toilet at the cadet hall in January last year. It was partially hidden by a pipe, but a cadet aged 15 noticed it when he went to a urinal.
The matter was reported to the police and officers carried out a search of Bannatyne’s home. His phone was seized as was a laptop which had 72 indecent images of children downloaded from websites.
Mr Forsyth told the court: “Of particular concern was a clip showing the accused sexually assaulting a young boy. It was established that the child was 12 at the time.
“This had been recorded on his mobile phone and transferred to his laptop. It happened in June 2015 in the accused’s home.”
Mr Forsyth said examination of Bannatyne’s phone showed more than 4,000 messages had been exchanged with a cadet over a 13-month period when the boy was aged between 13 and 15.
Bannatyne told the boy he had a “soft spot” for him. He became agitated when the boy didn’t return his compliments, and he brought up subjects of a sexual nature.
Defence agent Jack Grant said Bannatyne, who is from a “good, supportive family”, lost his full time job as a result of the court case. He now accepted he had a “problem”.
Mr Grant suggested the “protection of the public” could be served by imposing a “robust” community payback order prepared by social workers instead of jail.
Sheriff Ray Small said had it not been for the sexual assault he could order a package including counselling, but the assault involved a boy of 12 and an abuse of trust so only prison was appropriate.
Bannatyne will be on licence for a year on his release and on the sex offenders’ register for 10 years. The authorities will be warned he is deemed unsuitable to work with children in future.