Saturday, May 18, 2024

UK teacher pleads guilty to online sex abuse of Indian children

A former deputy head teacher of a primary school in London has pleaded guilty to paying and instructing teenagers in India, where he worked for seven years, to send him over over 120,000 indecent images of young children.

Matthew Smith, 34, from East Dulwich, was charged on Tuesday with five offences, including causing the sexual exploitation of a child under 13, and remanded in custody, the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

Smith, who will be sentenced at the Southwark Crown Court on August 4, was arrested in November 2022, after investigations identified that he was sharing abuse material on the dark web.

According to NCA, he 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, GBP65,398 to abuse children over a five-year period.

Officers recovered over 120,000 indecent images of children, which Smith had saved on a laptop, SD card and on his phone.

“Thousands of images and videos were recovered from his devices which showed an appalling catalogue of sexual abuse being perpetrated on children. Smith offered individuals payments for indecent images to gratify his own sexual desires, which resulted in the horrifying abuse of young children in India,” Claire Brinton, Specialist Prosecutor in the Crown Prosecution Service Organised Child Sexual Abuse Unit, said.

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.

He moved back to the UK in July 2022 and began working at the primary school in London in September, where he was a deputy head teacher and head of pastoral care.

“While conducting his offending, Smith worked at a school in Nepal, then became a deputy head teacher and head of pastoral care in the UK, so his offending is a deep betrayal of the trust placed in him,” Helen Dore, Senior Officer of the National Crime Agency, said.

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 to befriend children and build their trust with a view to abusing them, the NCA said.

Investigators found evidence of potential offending by Smith against children while he was working in India and information has been shared with relevant law enforcement partners.

There is no evidence to suggest he committed offences against children based in Nepal or the UK.

“Matthew Smith was a high risk individual and we moved quickly to locate, arrest and remand him so he could no longer pose a threat to children. Ultimately, we were able to prove that he was a prolific offender who manipulated young men to sexually abuse children on his behalf, giving them detailed instructions and financial reward,” NCA’s Dore said.

Smith pleaded guilty to the initial offences in November 2022.Last month, he was charged with a further 17 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.

His employment at the school, which began in September 2022, was terminated soon after it learned of the charges against him in November.

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