Published: 00:01, 20 March 2013
A Folkestone-based soldier – presented with an MBE by the Queen last year – has been jailed for sex assaults on two children.
Staff Sergeant Adrian Stone, 46, had been serving with the operational training advisory group at Napier Barracks, at Shorncliffe camp, training soldiers heading to Afghanistan.
His work was regarded as so important that the married sergeant was recognised in the Queen's Jubilee honours list in 2012.
And a judge has ruled that despite denying the offences, she would cut his jail sentence to 40 months to reflect his "28 years of exemplary service to his country".
Judge Heather Norton told Stone: "Your fall from grace has been a long and significant one."
But Stone will lose his MBE, his job and seven years of his army pension – acquired during tours in the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.
A jury at Canterbury Crown Court heard the career soldier, well regarded by his officers and colleagues, had a sinister secret – preying on children.
He was found guilty by a jury of six charges of sexual assaults on two victims. He had denied the offences.
During his trial, the court heard how Stone had abused the victims – including being found in bed at the barracks with a naked child - and had shown them photographs of other children being abused.
His barrister Simon Taylor said the offences for which Stone had been convicted were "ghastly and abhorrent".
"your fall from grace has been a long and significant one..." – judge heather norton
But he has served this country with distinction in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Bosnia – being in the army for 28 years," he said.
"His contribution to this country was also recognised in the Queen's Jubliee honours by the award of an MBE. This shows that there is some good in him.
"He has given to society and given to his country and the life-saving training must count for something."
Stone joined the army at 17 and "thinks of himself first and foremost as a soldier," Mr Taylor added.
"Now he is no longer a soldier. He has lost his employment. That loss of identity will be a punishment."
Other officers described Stone as "utterly dedicated, very knowledgeable, utterly honest and possessing a flair for low-level diplomacy".
But Judge Norton jailed Stone – who stood to attention for his sentence – to 40 months in jail.
She told him: "You have given a great deal to the service of this country. Your work with the advisory group was regarded as so important you were awarded an MBE.
"And I will reduce your sentence in recognition of the exceptional service that you have given this country."
Stone, who served in the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Territorial Army, was arrested in February 2012.
He was charged in May 2012 - just a month before he was awarded an MBE.