A depraved Scout leader and soldier who repeatedly abused young boys after befriending their mums and dads to gain their trust has been jailed for 11 years.

Vile pervert Antony Allen, 27, abused boys at Scout camps in Essex, Kent and Wales.

He was only brought to justice when one of his victims, realising that his younger brother was due to move up from Cubs to Allen's Scout troop, told his mum she had to get him out of the group to protect him.

The boys' stunned mother thought at first he was joking but, after the older lad warned other relatives, she got police involved.

The first formal complaint led to a string of other victims contacting police in quick succession.

One victim told police that Allen was looked up to as a "role model" by members of the group and several, including himself, viewed him as a second father.

One victim even called him 'Dad' as he was taken out and about by Allen just as a parent would.

Scott, of Plaistow, east London, was convicted in February at Snaresbrook Crown Court of six counts of sexual assault of a child under 13, and six counts of sexual activity with a child under 15.

He was also sentenced for making 30 Category C images of children he knew; possession of three Category A images, 28 Category B images and 611 Category C images. These included one Category A video, and ten Category B videos.

The charges related to eight boys from the 25th Newham East Scout Group where Allen had volunteered for ten years, up until being suspended last year.

The offences took place at several locations, including home addresses and at Scout camps.

The victims, all boys aged between eight and 16, were repeatedly abused over a four-year period between January 2013 and September 2017.

During that time, Allen worked for around a year as a teaching assistant and then as a learning mentor at a primary school.

He had also enlisted as a volunteer in the Army Reserves and was deployed in Estonia for training with his unit - 7 Rifles G company, based in West Ham - when the allegations first surfaced.

When police identified Allen, he was abroad with his army unit. Officers liaised with the Ministry of Defence to allow him to be flown back to England for questioning.

He was arrested at Heathrow last September, before being interviewed and released on bail.

Shortly afterwards, Allen temporarily disappeared after leaving 'suicide notes' at several of his victims' houses.

After Allen's computer was seized from his home, he was further arrested in connection with the offences relating to making and possessing images and videos.

Allen would groom the boys by initiating text message conversations that would begin as 'banter' before progressing to inappropriate chat focusing on male physique, then progressing to explicitly sexual language.

One tactic he used was to ask the victims to send him photos of them exercising as evidence for their progress towards a so-called 'fitness' badge.

Allen frequently took advantage of the boys on scout camping trips.

He would surprise his victims in the toilets or persuade then into his tent, only to find they were then trapped into unwanted physical intimacy.

One boy who was first assaulted by Allen, aged just 10, estimated sexual touching had occurred between 60 and 100 times.

Allen would also insinuate himself into the wider family of his victims, befriending parents and children alike to win their trust.

Mums and dads consistently told police how helpful and supportive Allen was, assisting with errands and taking the children out for day trips, leading officers to note they had been equally groomed.

On one occasion Allen assaulted a victim in his own bedroom while the boy's mum and younger sibling were downstairs in the garden.

When interviewed, another boy was so embarrassed by the memory of the explicitly sexual suggestions Allen had made to him, he was unable to say them out loud and had to write them in a note he handed officers to read instead.

PC Bruce Upson, of the Met's Child Abuse and Sexual Offences Command (CASO), praised the bravery of the victims who helped bring Allen to account.

PC Upston made a specific plea to any other victims who believe they have been abused by Allen.

He said: "These children have shown great courage throughout the investigation.

"Their actions in finding the strength to come forward and report the matter has prevented other potential offences occurring."

He added: "Allen was a predatory offender who used his well-established position as a scout leader to gain access to children and commit sexual offences against them whilst along the way earning the respect and trust of families.

"If there is anyone else out there who believes they or someone they are close to may also have been a victim of Allen, I would urge them to contact us a soon as possible."

The mother of one of the younger victims said "I'm really hurt by what Antony has done as he has taken what can never be replaced.

"His actions have impacted on our day to day lives as he didn't just abuse him physically but has scarred him mentally for life.

"He has left us shocked to the core and we will never trust anyone again.

"He had a group of children that was full of life and working towards bettering themselves and their community but took this opportunity to gain trust then abuse it."

She added: "My heart goes out to the families of all the victims that have been taken in and had their trust abused.

"I can't thank the police enough for all they have done to get this conviction - they have been amazing to me and to the child victims."