'I'm not normal': Former deputy headteacher at Prince George's old school jailed for 12 years for online child sex abuse

9 August 2023, 12:58

Matthew Smith, former deputy headteacher at £20,000-a-year Thomas's prep school in Battersea, jailed for 12 years
Matthew Smith, former deputy headteacher at £20,000-a-year Thomas's prep school in Battersea, jailed for 12 years. Picture: NCA/alamy

By StephenRigley

A 'master manipulator' who was previously employed as deputy headteacher at Prince George and Princess Charlotte old school has been jailed for 12 years after admitting child sex offences.

Matthew Smith, 35, paid out £65,000 for boys aged eight and ten in India to be sexually abused repeatedly on camera according to his instructions, between 2017 and 2022.

Smith was caught in November 2022, just a few months after he had been appointed as deputy head of pastoral care at £20,000-a-year Thomas’s prep school in Battersea.

George started at the school in 2017 and Charlotte in 2019 but both had left by the time Smith joined and there is no suggestion any of his offending related to Thomas's or its pupils.

Southwark crown court was told Smith was caught red-handed on his computer chatting to a boy in India when he was arrested at home in East Dulwich by the National Crime Agency, with dark web forums open and more than 120,000 indecent images of children on the device.

Matthew Smith
Matthew Smith. Picture: NCA

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Passing sentence, Judge Martin Griffith said none of the offending had taken place in the UK or involved any children from the Battersea school.

He said: “The heart of this case is your use of the Telegram chat system with people believed to be adults on the sub-continent.

"You sent requests for images you wanted to be made, sometimes involving sending pictures and asking for them to be recreated by the boys in question.

“The boys were corrupted by people acting on your behalf.”

Smith moved to Chennai in India when he was 24, and later moved to Nepal where he worked as a teacher. It is understood he also volunteered in orphanages during his time in India.

During his interview with National Crime Agency officers, Smith confessed to years of abuse and said: “Clearly I have an addiction, probably in this area. I don’t like the person I am. I would give anything to be normal. Anything.”

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."

A spokesperson for the school said: "We have been shocked and appalled beyond measure by this matter and are grateful for the work of the police and courts in bringing this man to account.

"Mr Smith's employment at the school, which commenced in September 2022, was terminated with immediate effect when the school first learned of the charges against him in November.

"While the National Crime Agency has confirmed that none of the matters under investigation related to the school or its pupils, these deplorable actions constitute an unforgivable breach of trust and our thoughts are with those who have been impacted or damaged by them.

"As always, we remain absolutely committed to the ongoing safety and wellbeing of our pupils and our whole school community."