A former soldier who encouraged underage girls to send him naked pictures has been spared jail.

Josh Boynton-Eckles embarked on behaviour described as “the stuff of parent’s nightmares” when he was serving in the military in 2015 and 2016.

Hull Crown Court heard how Boynton-Eckles, of 8th Avenue, North Hull, sent naked pictures of himself to girls under the age of 16 and images of bondage equipment and cartoons of adults spanking saying ‘this is going to be me and you’.

The 24-year-old also admitted to using the identity of another woman on anonymous chat site so he could encourage gay or bisexual women to send him naked pictures.

His offending first came to light when the mothers of two of his victims contacted police after they found indecent images on their daughters phones.

Josh Boynton-Eckles walks free from Hull Crown Court

“Their two daughters were friends,” said prosecuting barrister Claire Holmes. “One mother became aware that her daughter had been taking pictures of herself whilst naked in the shower and posted screenshots of the defendants chats to police.

“Both mothers were able to identify the defendant by finding the Facebook account linked to the messages."

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At the time, Boynton-Eckles was around 20-years-old and serving in the armed forces stationed in Thirsk, North Yorkshire.

A police investigation found he contacted a number of girls aged between 12 and 17 online from around the world.

In a conversation with one victim, aged 13 and 14 at the time, he “discussed kissing and touching her bottom when they met” and sent her a cartoon image of a man smacking a woman’s bottom saying ‘this is going to be me and you’.

In another conversation, again with a girl of a similar age, he discussed having sex with her and sent her an image of bondage equipment laid out on a bed.

Ms Holmes said: "He regularly chatted to females using various online applications. He would repeatedly ask for images.

"He was not deterred by age or vulnerability and would in fact use their vulnerability to get the images he wanted.

"I’m looking at one such example. These are conversations with one complainant. She says ‘I look a mess’ to which he says ‘I bet you are beautiful’. She says ‘I assure you I am not’ and he says ‘prove it’.

"In my submission that is an example of a female expressing doubt in the way she looks and he was using that in order to get her to show him a picture."

Boynton-Eckles also encouraged a 15-year-old girl to send him naked pictures on Whatsapp and made references to taking her virginity.

Ms Holmes said: “She confirmed she had sent him naked images and the conversation had been sexual and they discussed meeting up for sex. She said no such meeting took place.”

Boynton-Eckles pleaded guilty to five counts of causing or inciting a girl under 16 to engage in sexual activity and appeared at Hull Crown Court to be sentenced.

In a victim impact statement, one of his victims said she felt “a lot of shame” after her encounter with Boynton-Eckles saying it made her “feel stupid and worthless”.

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Boynton-Eckles also stood in the dock to be sentenced for one count of fraud after he admitted to using the identity of another woman on the anonymous social media app Whisper.

He would use her name and images to create a profile encouraging gay or bisexual women he was speaking with to send him naked photos, Ms Holmes told the court.

She said: “Examination of the Whisper app chat records showed he used a woman’s image on a number of occasions and pretended to be her by name or without a name.

“There are 20 examples of the defendant using her identity in order to obtain sexual chat and or pictures and two specific examples are when he exchanged naked pictures of the woman with the person he is speaking to.”

Boynton-Eckles was also sentenced for one count of making an indecent photograph of a child and distributing a photograph of a child, after police found 59 category C images on his mobile phone.

Mitigating barrister, Keith Allen, told the court that Boynton-Eckles put a stop to his behaviour when another soldier sent him an indecent image of a child.

“If I can start by addressing the slightly unusual feature of this case," said Mr Allen. "The defendant was a serving member of the military.

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"During the period of his service he was contacted and in communication with another member of the military that sent to him indecent images of children.

“He reported that to the military police and he handed over as part of their investigation the devices. It is in fact that time period where his report of the other person to the police is in essence the end of his offending behaviour.

“The realisation appears to have dawned on this defendant the behaviour he was engaging in was unlawful and also wrong.”

Mr Allen also referred to a psychologist’s report suggesting Boynton-Eckles had “difficulties in interpersonal functioning” likely caused by childhood trauma.

The report read: “Mr Boynton Eckle’s offending behaviour is most likely to be driven by his difficulties in interpersonal functioning, most likely to be the result of childhood trauma.

“He has struggled to relate to people his own age and has found it difficult to trust and feel rejected by them.

“He has become isolated and experienced low mood and has coped with these difficulties by turning to the internet for social contact and found it easier relating to young girls.”

Sentencing Boynton-Eckles to 20 months imprisonment suspended for two years, Judge David Tremberg said his behaviour was “the stuff of parent’s nightmares”.

He said: “We have already seen in many ways you found young girls easier to manipulate, to groom, to control, to exploit, and the indictment reflects your involvement with three young girls who you groomed and exchanged indecent photographs with and encouraged into sexual activity.

“In other devious criminality you even went as far as a form of identity fraud masquerading as a young woman exchanging indecent images of her in order to wheedle indecent images out of other women of a significant age.

“What you did is likely to have a serious and emotional effect upon the girls. Your behaviour is the stuff of parents nightmares, that people like you should be floating about on the internet looking for the opportunity to take advantage of children.

“There are no contact offences here. If there was the sentence would have been much greater.

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“I bear in mind you have been in no trouble since and you appear willing to take help available to you. I bear in mind you psychological presentation has been a factor in your offending.

“In all the circumstances of the case and by a rather fine margin I am satisfied that justice can be met by imposing a sentence that does not require immediate custody.”

Boynton-Eckles must complete 15 days rehabilitation activity requirement and take part in the Horizon programme.

He will also be a registered sex offender for the next ten years and adhere to a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for ten years.