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Ex-deputy head at George and Charlotte’s former school paid teens £65,000 to abuse children

The 34-year-old had spent seven years working in orphanages across India between 2007 and 2014

Maryam Zakir-Hussain
Wednesday 21 June 2023 11:57 BST
Matthew Smith, 34, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of child sex abuse
Matthew Smith, 34, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of child sex abuse (NCA / SWNS)

An ex-deputy headteacher at Prince George and Princess Charlotte’s former primary school has admitted paying thousands of pounds to teenagers to abuse younger children.

Matthew Smith, 34, pleaded guilty to 18 counts of child sex abuse, including commissioning of the abuse of children in India while he lived in Nepal for five years.

When the first allegations emerged around seven months ago, Smith was deputy headteacher at Thomas’s prep school in Battersea High Street, south west London.

Before taking up the job at the prestigious school, where the Prince and Princess of Wales had previously enrolled their older two children, he worked at a British school in the Nepalese capital, Kathmandu, between 2017 and July 2022.

Investigators discovered last November he was sharing abuse material on the dark web.

Smith was even 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, police said.

He also had dark web sites and forums open on his computer dedicated to child sexual abuse, according to the NCA.

Detectives analysed chat logs and bank transactions and found Smith paid the same teenager, and another also living in India, a total of £65,398 to abuse children over a five-year period.

Before working at the school in Nepal, Smith spent various periods working in orphanages and NGOs across India between 2007 until 2014.

He then moved back to the UK last July and began working at Thomas’s prep in September, where he was a deputy head teacher and head of pastoral care. He was sacked two months later when he was charged by police.

Prince George and Princess Charlotte, pictured with brother Louis and father William, had had left the school by the time Smith started work (Millie Pilkington/Kensington Pal)

The chat logs showed Smith would order the young men to perform sexual acts on boys and would also send them images and videos as examples of ones he would like to see re-enacted.

He also gave one of them advice on how to befriend children and build their trust in order to abuse them, police said.

There is nothing to suggest he committed abuse against children based in Nepal or the UK, the NCA said.

After a raid on Smith‘s home in East Dulwich, south east London, officers found over 120,000 indecent images of children saved on his laptop, a SD card and on his phone.

Prosecutors charged him with a total of 22 offences, 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.

At Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday he pleaded guilty to 17 counts and had admitted five counts at a previous hearing in November.

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.”

None of the offences relate to his job at the £20,000-a-year Thomas’s primary school, which was attended by Prince George and Princess Charlotte until the end of the last academic year.

Both royal children have now moved to Lambrook School, near Ascot in Berkshire, and had left by the time Smith started work in September.

Claire Brinton, specialist prosecutor in the CPS’s Organised Child Sexual Abuse Unit, branded Smith‘s crimes “particularly disturbing” given he was a primary school teacher.

She said after the hearing: “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 those who sexually abuse and exploit children, wherever that abuse takes place.”

Before his role at Thomas’s, Smith was assistant head teacher at the British School in Kathmandu, Nepal, for five years.

He also taught at St Paul’s School and has degrees from both Oxford as well as Cambridge.

A spokesperson for Thomas’s said in light of Smith‘s conviction: “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.”

Smith will be sentenced at the same court next month.

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