Celebrated ex-army officer jailed over child sex abuse charges
22 May 2019, 15:43 | Updated: 22 May 2019, 16:23
A decorated veteran from the British Army has been sentenced to three years and two months in prison after admitting to arranging for children in the Philippines to be sexually abused on webcam while he watched.
Andrew Whiddett, 70, paid thousands of pounds to watch the acts, and had also planned to travel to the Philippines himself to carry out the abuse.
He had specifically conversed with a woman in 2016, in which he made his intentions clear to "sexually abuse a child when he visited the Philippines that October," according to the National Crime Agency.
Prosecutor Amanda Hamilton told Croydon Crown Court on Wednesday that Whiddett had directed the abuse, which was livestreamed via Skype, with "known Filipino child sex abuse facilitators".
A former lieutenant-colonel who was awarded an MBE for his service in Northern Ireland, Whiddett had over the course of several years received 40 files of which almost half contained indecent photos of children.
Upon delivering the sentence on Wednesday, Judge Nicholas Ainley said "there's no getting around" the crime, regardless of the former officer's celebrated past.
He said: "This is a 70-year-old who has been a dedicated and courageous servant to his country and also somebody who has abused two young children.
"I am well aware of the service dedicated to this country but children, wherever they are in the world, need to be protected from this type of activity."
Whiddett has also pleaded guilty to attempting to cause or incite girls under the ages of 13 and 16 to engage in sexual acts in 2016.
Defence lawyer Siobhan Grey QC said her client had showed "remorse and shame" for the crimes committed, and maintained that it was unlikely that he would reoffend.
She explained that Whiddett had become "sucked in" to the online dating world after his wife of 40 years died in 2014 to cancer.
"He is ashamed and embarrassed and took some time to confront his behaviour," she added.
However, a spokesperson from NSPCC pointed out that Whiddett's behaviour is likely to have caused "untold pain and suffering" that was "likely to last a lifetime".
"Today's sentence sends a clear message that no matter where or how the abuse takes place, perpetrators can and will be brought to justice," the spokesperson said.
(c) Sky News 2019: Celebrated ex-army officer jailed over child sex abuse charges