Adrian Crowe was described as “every parent’s worst nightmare” as he was jailed for eight years for raping a schoolgirl aged 12.
The 40-year-old met the young girl online and was aware of her age when he arranged to meet her.
The ex-soldier travelled 130 miles from the Midlands to Meols in Wirral, Merseyside, to carry out the attack in a field.
The girl thought that Crowe was of school age and he offered to buy her a strawberry milkshake at McDonald’s when she said she would be late for a meeting after school.
It was later found by police experts that he had been using a dating chat service called Anti-chat to speak to a number of other underage girls.
On Thursday, after admitting the rape of a child under 13 and sexual grooming, Crowe, of Kirkdale Road in Coventry, was jailed for eight years, with an additional year on licence, at Liverpool Crown Court.
Crowe was an emergency preparedness manager for the ambulance service, responsible for planning medical cover for major events.
“This case represents what must be every parent’s worst nightmare,” said Judge Alan Conrad, QC.
“Their child, their innocent child, going on the internet and meeting somebody like you, who I categorise in the circumstances of this case as a sexual predator.”
Prosecutor Martine Snowdon said the offence, which took place on June 19, left the girl feeling “guilty, embarrassed and confused”.
Ms Snowdon said, “She told police she had received a Facebook friend request from somebody called Adrian, and after chatting to that person he asked for her number, she gave it to him and they began texting each other.
“She said the profile didn’t have a picture and she thought she was chatting with a schoolmate.”
The court heard that Crowe, after the attack, he drove her back to where he had picked her up and told her “not to tell anyone”.
When Police arrested Crowe in a Pizza Hut in Coventry after his DNA was found on the girl, he said, “Is this about the girl? She told me she was 20.”
He later admitted sexual contact with the victim and claimed he was “so embarrassed” when he found out her real age.
However, messages to other girls on the Anti-chat site included, “Are you legal or jailbait?”
He also asked, “Would you be OK doing it with me?”, when talking to a 15-year-old.
Ben Jones, defending Crowe, said he was an Army veteran and had worked in a pressurised job with the ambulance service.
He said, “It’s extremely hard to rationalise how a man of this age, of previous good character, good employment and in a supportive relationship should fall into such extreme behaviour almost overnight.”
Mr Jones said his client was described by his partner, who was standing by him, as reacting badly to coming off a high-dose of anti-depressants and that he had “never shown any sign of” interest in under-age girls before.
Crowe was also ordered to sign the sex offenders register for life and handed an indefinite Sexual Harm Prevention Order, severely restricting his internet use.