A former soldier who was arrested for rape after his victim covertly recorded conversations with him years after the assaults took place has been jailed.
John Johnstone, 50, of Sleaford, had no clue that the woman was using her phone to tape him when he admitted having sex with her ‘numerous times’.
The High Court in Edinburgh heard how Johnstone – who completed two tours of duty in Bosnia with the Royal Corps of Signals – apologised to the woman during a conversation between the pair.
The ex-prison officer then admitted he had sex with her during a second covertly recorded chat.
Johnstone was convicted of abusing and raping the girl when she was aged between two and 11 at houses and a park in Scotland between 1980 and 1990 and placed on the Sex Offenders Register.
He had spent his trial last month claiming he was innocent of all charges. Following conviction, Johnstone was remanded in custody and sentence was deferred for reports into the retired squaddie’s character.
On Tuesday, April 25, judge Michael O’Grady QC heard that Johnstone had suffered psychological trauma as a consequence of serving in Bosnia and working in the prison service. But judge O’Grady told Johnstone that he had no other option but to send him to prison for nine years.
Passing sentence, judge O’Grady said: “The depravity, wickedness and dreadful breach of trust which this charge represents are all too clear.
“So too is the damage you have done to a child and the woman she has become.
“You will understand that only a significant sentence of imprisonment can reflect the gravity of your crime. It will be one of nine years.”
During the catalogue of abuse he molested the child, exposed himself and got her to carry out sex acts on him, the court was told.
The victim, now in her 30s, told the court that at times he had her by the hair and became more aggressive to her as time went on.
She added: “As I got older he stopped being sort of nice to me.”
She said she had cried out when he first raped her. She said she was ‘pretty much pinned down by the weight of him’.
Prosecution lawyer Mark McGuire asked her if as time went on she started to get a sense of whether what was happening to her was wrong. She replied: “Absolutely.”
She said she had told Johnstone that she had begun to realise it was wrong. “He said it wasn’t wrong because people love each other,” she said.
She said the abuse had begun on visits to Johnstone’s former home in Scotland and she recalled him standing in the doorway of his bedroom and he offered her pennies from a piggy bank for a kiss.
The woman said the abuse that she suffered ended when Johnstone left to join the Army.
She said that as a child she had spoken to adults about what happened but did not get ‘a sympathetic response’.
But in 2015 she had gone to a house where Johnstone was visiting and made a recording of an initial conversation with her abuser with her phone in her back pocket, which he was unaware of.
She said: “I really just wanted to listen to it and absorb it.”
During the recording, which was played to the jury, Johnstone said: “I was so wrong and I know I was wrong. That’s why I left.”
He told her he had dreaded the conversation coming up and was ashamed. During the second conversation she said she had asked him to say what it was he had done to her. She said: “He did actually say he had sexual intercourse with me on numerous occasions.”
Mr McGuire asked the woman whether she had made the recordings to obtain evidence or to help seek closure. She replied: “Closure.”
But she had also later ‘poured out everything that had gone on’ to a family doctor who convinced her to report it to the authorities.
Defence counsel Derick Nelson asked Johnstone what he was referring to when he had said sorry in the recordings.
He said: “I kissed her inappropriately when I was about 18.”
He said: “I kissed her twice. The second time I stopped I was so disgusted with myself.” He said there was no truth in it when he later said he had sex with her.
At the sentencing, Mr Nelson said his client had suffered psychological trauma during his time in the Army and the prison service.
He added: “He served in Army Signals and completed two tours of duty in Bosnia. He was left traumatised by what he had seen there. There were times when one day he would drive past a village only for it not to be there when he drove past the location the following day.”