A 38-year-old former soldier is facing a jail sentence after he persuaded a 12-year-old boy and other children to go to his house multiple times.

The childless man, Anthony Lingard, convinced the boy’s parents that he had a child around the same age, reported Daily Mail. On Friday, at Manchester Crown Court, he pleaded guilty to five counts of child abduction in connection with offences that happened between July 2019 and January 2020. The offences concern one pre-teen boy.

The court was told that the defendant would allow the boy and other children to his Radcliffe home. There he was said to be known for teaching local children about nature and how to build dens. Lingard would buy alcohol for the kids, take them on camping trips and even told the 12-year-old victim he could bring his girlfriend, said the prosecution. The former soldier gave the boys “free rein” at his home.

Prosecutor Nicola Caroll told the court that he allowed them to stay over, drink alcohol and vape. She said that the boys were allowed to do what they "wanted to do at the defendant’s house and so they returned time and time again.”

Lingard allowed the boys to play drinking games and slept with them in the tent during one camping trip. The prosecutor said that his victim became “drunk.” That made him feel “uncomfortable."

In a victim statement, the boy's father said that Lingard "groomed and manipulated a young boy by allowing him to do things he knew were illegal for a boy of that age.” The boy told his parents that Lingard was the father of a friend who would visit the house, Caroll told the court. She said that the defendant was “complicit in the deception," because when he spoke to the victim’s father, he kept up the pretense. He also told the boy's mother that he was the father of her son’s friend.

The boy's father said that he was “disgusted” at Lingard. With time, the father grew to “trust” Lingard, and started texting instead of phoning to check if the visit was okay. But had he known the real situation, the visits “would not have been allowed." The Bolton News reported that the victim impact statement from the boy’s father said that their “trust is shattered” after Lingard “hid behind his fireman persona." The father also said that his son had suffered with "anxiety" and had become "very quiet" in school, according to Manchester Evening News.

The truth of the situation eventually “got out” at the boy's school. Then teachers “raised the alarm” by calling the police. Lingard, who has no previous convictions, was arrested, and in his police interview, he admitted that the boy had visited his home and that he had taken him and his friends camping. But he denied that the victim was allowed to drink. Lingard, who served in the Royal Welch Fusiliers, also denied deceiving the boy's parents.

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