A teacher from south east London who paid £65,000 to commission the sexual abuse of children as young as 7 has been jailed for 12 years. 

Matthew Smith, 35, used the dark web to commission child abuse, encouraging men to lure children away from their family homes then send him footage of sexual abuse.   

Smith was previously deputy head at Thomas’s in Battersea, the £20,000 a year school which Prince George and Princess Charlotte attended.   

The teacher has pleaded guilty to 17 charges 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. 

When his home on Chesterfield Grove in East Dulwich was raided in November 2022 Smith told officers: “Clearly I have an addiction, probably in this area. I’m ashamed of who I am. I would do anything to be normal, anything.” 

Over 120,000 child sexual abuse images were found on Smith’s computers along with messages to men in India in which he encouraged them to rape and abuse children, prosecutor Martin Hooper said.  

One of the men he had commissioned to abuse children was someone he had groomed from a young age, the court heard.  

Smith offered to pay for the school fees of any young children the men could lure into their web of abuse.  

Between 2007 and 2014 Smith spent time working in orphanages and NGOs in India.  

Smith’s offending took place while he was living and working in Nepal. 

There is no evidence that Smith perpetrated any abuse against children in the UK or in Nepal.   

After Smith moved back to the UK and took up a teaching position, he posted an online advert looking to secure a flat share. 

In the advert he said he was a primary school teacher and could assist with childcare. He was arrested before he could be taken up on his offer. 

Investigators found evidence of potential offending by Smith while he was working in India and information has been shared with Indian police. 

Defence counsel Sarah Vine said: “He has written to every single member of his extended family and close friends to explain to them exactly what has happened and to express to them the fact that he does not expect so much as a response, but to apologise to them for the distress that this news may well have caused.”  

There is no evidence that Smith perpetrated any abuse against children in the UK or in Nepal, where he worked for several years.  

Judge Griffiths adjourned sentencing until Wednesday (August 9) but warned Smith that he should expect a lengthy prison sentence.  

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 Thomas’ 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.”