‘Trauma’ of Afghanistan led to ex-soldier exposing himself in Hainault park

An army veteran who had served in Afghanistan and who, it was claimed, is suffering from post-traumatic disorder, exposed himself in front of a woman in Hainault Forest Country Park.

Former lance-corporal Paul Butland, 34, of Lambourne Crescent, Chigwell, flashed at a 23-year-old dog-walker on the morning of November 2, 2011.

The woman had noticed him standing with his back to her near a path at about 8.30am as she strolled with two dogs.

Butland then turned around and she saw that he was exposing himself. The dog-walker screamed, ran off and called the police.

Butland was arrested on November 9, when he claimed not to have been in the area at the time.

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But after the victim picked him out of a police line-up, he admitted one count of exposure.

The defendant, who served with the Coldstream Guards in Northern Ireland and Afghanistan, has committed a string of similar offences since he got back from a tour of duty in Kenya in late 2010 and was discharged from the army.

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He admitted the latest incident in Hainault, was handed a six-month jail term suspended for two years and ordered to complete a sex offenders’ rehabilitation programme, do 150 hours of unpaid work and sign the sex offenders’ register.

Matthew Hardyman, defending, said Butland had spent 13 years in the army and had never committed an offence until his return from Kenya.

He said: “He is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and this risk-taking behaviour is linked to survivor’s guilt after some of the horrors that he’s seen.

“He feels regret and remorse for his offences and doesn’t understand why he is doing it.”

Passing sentence, Judge Sylvia Paneth said she believed Butland had been traumatised by his experiences in the army.

She made a Sexual Offences Prevention Order banning the defendant from entering any public park or play area unsupervised.

Judge Paneth said: “You had an exemplary military career, but the women and girls who have been exposed to you in that very frank way must be protected.”

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