A former deputy head teacher of a primary school has pleaded guilty to paying and instructing teenagers in India to abuse younger children.
Matthew Smith, 34, 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.
He was charged the following day with five offences, including causing the sexual exploitation of a child under 13, and remanded in custody.
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, £65,398 to abuse children over a five-year period.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
He appeared at Southwark Crown Court today [20 June] where he pleaded guilty to the additional charges. He’ll be sentenced at the same court on 4 August 2023.
Helen Dore, Senior Officer of the National Crime Agency, said: “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.
“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.
“The NCA is dedicated to operating online and overseas, working with global partners to ensure that children are safeguarded and offenders like Smith are brought to justice.”
Claire Brinton, Specialist Prosecutor in the CPS’ Organised Child Sexual Abuse Unit, said: “Matthew Smith’s crimes are particularly disturbing given his role as a primary school teacher entrusted with the responsibility of caring for and safeguarding children.
“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.
“This conviction sends a clear message that the CPS, working alongside the NCA and international partners, will work to bring to justice to those who sexually abuse and exploit children, wherever that abuse takes place.
“Our Organised Child Sexual Abuse Unit was set up last year to prosecute child sexual abuse. Through the work of this unit, we are determined to help stop the devastating impact of these crimes on victims.”