A HAMPSHIRE war hero who sexually assaulted two children has been jailed – eight months after being made an MBE by the Queen.

Staff Sergeant Adrian Stone joined the Army when he was just 17 and has served on tours of the Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan and Bosnia.

The 46-year-old dad-of-one from Southampton then returned to the UK where he trained soldiers for frontline duty at an Army base in Folkestone.

Stone’s role in preparing troops for Afghanistan was deemed so important that he gained recognition in the Queen’s Jubilee Honours List in June 2012.

His reputation was such among friends and colleagues he was described as someone who was utterly honest and dedicated.

But Canterbury Crown Court heard that Stone, who served with the Corps of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers, Territorial Army, was found in bed with a child at his barracks at Shorncliffe Camp – where he showed them photographs of other children being abused.

Following his arrest on February 24 last year and a subsequent police investigation he was charged on May 25 with six counts of sexual assault against two victims. He denied the offences.

Stone, who has a family home in Southampton, was found guilty by a jury but the well regarded soldier will serve just 40 months in prison after the judge cut his sentence – for his “exemplary service to his country”.

Judge Heather Norton, sentencing, said: “You have given a great deal to the service of this country. Your work with the advisory group was regarded as so important you were awarded an MBE…and I will reduce your sentence in recognition of the exceptional service that you have given this country.”

Simon Taylor, defending, said the offences for which Stone had been convicted were “ghastly and abhorrent”.

He said: “His contribution to this country was also recognised in the Queen’s Jubliee Honours by the award of an MBE. This shows that there is some good in him.”

Mr Taylor added: “Now he is no longer a soldier. He has lost his employment. That loss of identity will be a punishment.”

Stone’s former colleagues described him as “utterly dedicated, very knowledgeable and utterly honest”.