A former deputy head teacher of a primary school has been sentenced to 12 years in prison for paying and instructing teenagers in India to abuse younger children.
Matthew Smith, 35, from East Dulwich, was arrested by the National Crime Agency in November 2022, after investigators identified that he was sharing abuse material on the dark web.
Smith was online at the time of his arrest, speaking to a teenage boy living in India and asking him to send sexual images of a younger child, in return for money.
He also had dark web sites and forums open on his computer which were dedicated to child sexual abuse.
NCA investigators interrogated chat logs and financial transactions and were able to establish that Smith had paid that same teenager, and another also based in India, a total of £65,398 to abuse children over a five-year period.
The chat logs showed that Smith would instruct the young men to perform sexual acts on boys and would send them images and videos as examples of ones he would like to receive in return.
He also gave one of them advice on how befriend children and build their trust with a view to abusing them.
Smith was living in Nepal and working at a school for the majority of this time. Prior to this, he spent various periods working in orphanages and NGOs across India between 2007-2014.
Investigators found evidence of potential offending by Smith against children while he was working in India. The NCA shared information with the Indian authorities and continues to work with them in order to identify and safeguard victims.
He moved back to the UK in July 2022 and began working at a primary school in London in September, where he was a deputy head teacher and head of pastoral care.
That summer, Smith posted an online advert looking to secure a flat share, in which he said he was a primary school teacher and could assist with childcare. He was arrested before he could be taken up on his offer.
There is no evidence to suggest he committed offences against children based in Nepal or the UK.
Officers recovered over 120,000 indecent images of children (IIOC) which Smith had saved on a laptop, SD card and on his phone.
Smith pleaded guilty to 22 counts, including encouraging the rape of a child under 13, causing a child under 13 to engage in sexual activity, and arranging the sexual abuse of a child.
He was sentenced today [9 August] at Southwark Crown Court to 12 years in prison. He is also subject to an indefinite sexual harm prevention order and has been placed on the sex offenders register for life.
Helen Dore, Senior Officer of the National Crime Agency, said: “Matthew Smith is a prolific offender and master manipulator, who coerced young men into abusing children on his behalf.
“He constantly sought out opportunities to gain access to children, but was adept at hiding his sexual interest in them. He conducted his offending while working as a teacher and head of pastoral care – a deep betrayal of the trust placed in him.
“It’s clear Smith has absolutely no empathy for his victims and the harm he has caused them. He presents a very real and significant risk to children, but this investigation has ensured he will spend a long time in prison.
“The NCA is committed to operating online and overseas, working with global partners to ensure that children are safeguarded and offenders like Smith are brought to justice.”
An NSPCC spokesperson said: “Smith’s offending was calculated and callous, exploiting children to abuse other children with no regard to the impact child sexual abuse can have on victims.
“We hope every child affected by his terrible actions are identified and supported and all those involved in the places where he worked are comforted by the knowledge that he is now in prison.
“Smith was able to far too easily use the internet to facilitate his crimes which is why the UK Government’s Online Safety Bill is so crucial; as it will finally compel tech companies to do far more to protect children from sexual abuse on their sites.”
09 August 2023