A SOLDIER from York who went absent without leave rather than return to Afghanistan has been jailed for nine months.

Lance Corporal Joe Glenton was sentenced at a military court in Colchester, Essex, yesterday, after admitting the AWOL charge. His mother, Sue Glenton, said she was “absolutely furious” at the Army’s treatment of her son and announced that he would be appealing against the sentence.

John Heawood, of York Against The War, described Glenton as a “martyr” for the courage he had shown in standing up for what he believed in.

The court martial heard how Glenton, who took part in an anti-war protest last October, went AWOL for 737 days after performing a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan in 2006, while serving with the Royal Logistic Corps. The hearing heard that when Glenton returned from Afghanistan he was ordered to go back to the conflict zone after nine months even though military guidelines suggest soldiers should not be deployed again within 18 months.

Mitigating, Nick Wrack said that when Glenton raised concerns about going back to Afghanistan, he suffered bullying and was called a “coward” and a “malingerer”.

Consultant psychiatrist Lars Davidsson told the court that Glenton, who was married to his wife, Clare, last year, may have been suffering from post traumatic stress disorder after his first stint in the war zone.

“He told me that when he was deployed in 2006 he felt guilty and useless,” he said.

“He told me of how he supplied coffins for the dead servicemen. He had dreams of coffins being lined up. When he got back he was drinking heavily and having sleeping problems. Sometimes he would have bad dreams and wake up screaming. He was agitated when he heard any loud bangs.”

Mr Wrack said that Glenton, of New Earswick, joined the army in 2004 with a “wave of enthusiasm”.

He said: “He was told that the troops’ presence in Afghanistan would improve the country, that democracy would be bought and that the position of women would improve. This motivated him to go. His experience and reality conflicted with what he had been told.

“More and more he began to see that the conflict in Afghanistan was wrong. He spoke out about it, perhaps in a bold fashion.”

Speaking to The Press after the hearing, Mr Heawood said: “Joe did what he did because this particular war, in his view, was unjust, illegal and counter-productive.

“He didn’t walk out because he was a soldier and didn’t want to go to war.

“He had been to war in Afghanistan and had experienced this war himself for a number of months and his reaction was that they were doing the Afghans more harm than good.”

Mrs Glenton said when she spoke to her son after the sentencing he was in a “defiant” mood and would continue to speak out against the conflict in Afghanistan.

She also said she believed her son had been made a “scapegoat” and spoke of her concern that he would not receive treatment for his PTSD while behind bars.

“A soldier who had gone AWOL for two years was recently given four months in prison, but Joe has been given nine months,” she said.

“He has been made a scapegoat for speaking out against the war, even though they said they were dropping those charges. I am so angry.”

Meanwhile, York MP Hugh Bayley declined to voice his opinion. He said: “These decisions need to be made by a court without influence from the Government or politicians and I therefore can’t comment on this individual case.”

How the Glenton case unfolded

June 11, 2007: Glenton is first discovered to be AWOL when he fails to return to Dalton Barracks in Abingdon, Oxfordshire.

June 16, 2009: Glenton hands himself in after two years and six days, during which he travelled to south east Asia and Australia. He is charged with desertion.

July 31, 2009: Glenton first hits the headlines after writing to Gordon Brown, calling for British troops to be brought home from Afghanistan. He was the first British soldier to speak out publicly against the conflict.

October 14, 2009: Glenton’s wife, Clare, says she is “astonished” by the world-wide support for her husband.

October 24, 2009: Glenton addresses thousands of Stop The War Coalition protestors in Hyde Park, London, as he becomes one of the first serving soldiers to attend an anti-war demonstration.

November 11, 2009: Glenton is arrested and charged with disobeying a direct order not to attend the anti-war protest. He is kept in military custody as he awaits trial.

November 12, 2009: Anti-war protesters descend on Whitehall in a show of support for Glenton.

December 12, 2009: Glenton is released from military custody, pending his court martial hearing.

January 1, 2010: Glenton’s lawyer reveals the soldier has been diagnosed with post traumatic stress disorder.

January 23, 2010: Glenton’s mother, Sue Glenton, attends a protest in York.

January 29, 2010: Glenton pleads guilty to going AWOL at his court martial hearing after military chiefs decide to drop a more serious allegation of desertion and the charges surrounding the part he played in the anti-war rally.

March 5, 2010: Glenton is sentenced to nine months in jail and reduced to the ranks.