A SOLDIER took thousands of pounds from the bank account of his brother whom he impersonated after coming back from seven months on the front line in Afghanistan.

Ricky Clark, 21, took £6,010 from his brother Ben and squandered it on things like gambling, Barnsley Magistrates' Court was told.

Clark, a gunner, dipped into the bank account 22 times after getting hold of his brother's bank statements, said Chantel Lowery-Green, prosecuting.

She said Clark found the deception easy because the bank asked him questions he could answer such as the maiden name of his mother.

Mrs Lowery-Green said: "Mr Clark's brother has not spoken to him since this happened. He has since been reimbursed by the bank."

Philip Stables, defending, said Clark, of Park View, Worsbrough, was described by superior officers as 'an excellent, reliable and trustworthy soldier' who had seen danger during his term in Afghanistan.

He said Clark was about to start a short term in a prison in Colchester following a court martial for going absent without leave.

District Judge John Foster gave Clark a 12-week jail sentence, suspended for a year. He said he would have put anyone else in different circumstances straight behind bars.

Mr Foster said: "Very few people have to endure active service and danger like you have. I cannot disregard that.

"It seems to me you underwent some kind of personality change while you were in Afghanistan. 

"This is a sad case because you committed this offence against your brother. That will have ramifications I do not have any control over."

Clark, who admitted fraud by false representation, was ordered to do 150 hours of unpaid work, to pay £85 in costs and an £80 victim surcharge.

He was also ordered to undergo a year of supervision.