Matthew Smith, who is a former deputy head teacher of a primary school, and is aged 34, has pleaded guilty to paying, and instructing teenagers in India, to abuse younger children. Smith was arrested by the National Crime Agency, UK, back in November 2022, and belongs in East Dulwich, which is a town in London Borough of Southwark. He was nabbed by the agency after the investigators found out that he was sharing abuse material on the dark web.
As per the reports of the National Crime Agency, UK, Smith was online at the time of his arrest, and was speaking to a teenage boy in India, asking the latter to send the sexual images of a younger child, in lieu of money. At the same time, he also had dark websites and forums open on his computer which were dedicated to child sexual abuse. The next day, he was charged with five offences, which included causing the sexual exploitation of a child, aged below 13, and was remanded in custody.
After a probe into the chat logs and financial transactions of Smith, the NCA investigators were able to establish that the culprit had paid the same teenager he was talking to, and another one, in India, £65,398 to abuse children over a five-year period.
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”, Dore expressed.
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”, added Brinton.
For the majority of the five-year period of commissioning the crimes, Smith was living in Nepal, working at a school; prior to which, between 2007 and 2014, he had spent various periods of time working in NGOs and orphanages, across India. It was in July, 2022, that he moved back to the UK, and in the month of September in the same year, started working at the primary school in London, as a deputy head teacher, and the head of pastoral care.
The NCA’s investigation shows that the chat logs revealed 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. Investigators also 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. Officers recovered over 1,20,000 indecent images of children (IIOC) which Smith had saved on a laptop, SD card and on his phone.
There is no evidence to suggest that he has committed offences against children based in Nepal or the UK.
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 the Southwark Crown Court on 20 June, 2023, where he pleaded guilty to the additional charges. He will be sentenced at the same court on 4 August, 2023.