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 Thomas’s prep school in Battersea.
Prince George and Princess Charlotte had spent their early years of education at the £20,000-a-year school before leaving in 2022 as the family moved to Berkshire.
Southwark crown court heard 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.
Passing sentence on Wednesday, Judge Martin Griffith said none of the offending had taken place in the UK or involved any children from the Battersea school.
“The heart of this case is your use of the Telegram chat system with people believed to be adults on the sub-continent”, he said.
“You were paying money - £67,000 – and asked them to provide images of the sexual abuse of young boys under 13.”
Imposing a prison term of 12 years with an extra five years on licence after release, the judge said it was clear Smith “took advantage” of those he was abusing.
“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”, he added.
“The boys were corrupted by people acting on your behalf.”
The court heard 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 NCA 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.”
Prosecutor Martin Hooper told the court last week: “His history is important. At the time of his arrest in 2022, he was employed as a teacher.
He was the deputy head of pastoral care at a preparatory school in Battersea, where pupils were aged between four and 14.
“Prior to that, he was a teacher in Nepal between 2017 and 2022.”
The court heard details of the requests Smith made for photos and videos of a ten-year-old boy being abused, while the Telegram chats suggested he may have also abused another boy years ago who was now facilitating his requests.
It was discovered an eight-year-old boy had been lured away from his family “with the express intention that he would be sexually abused”, said Mr Hooper.
“The defendant said he would pay their school fees in return.”
Images found on Smith’s laptop show the boy being explicitly and repeatedly abused according to Smith’s instructions.
In one of the recovered messages, Smith asks if the young boy is “ready for some fun”.
Smith’s barrister told the court he has written to relatives and close friends “to explain to them exactly what has happened, 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 them”.
She said Smith has spent time in prison so far teaching reading, writing and maths to fellow inmates, and he has committed to seeing treatment for the causes of his offending.
“He is keen indeed to make changes, and he understands that change can’t be made simply by making verbal commitments”, she said.
“He will continue to devote himself to searching for appropriate intervention wherever it is properly available to him.”
The NCA said in summer 2022 Smith had posted an online advert for a flat share, saying he was a primary school teacher and offering to assist with childcare, but he was arrested before he could be taken up on his offer.
“Matthew Smith is a prolific offender and master manipulator, who coerced young men into abusing children on his behalf”, said Helen Dore, Senior Officer at the NCA.
“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.”
Smith pleaded guilty to three counts of encouraging the rape of a child under 13, three charges of causing a boy under 13 to engage in sexual activity, arranging and encouraging the sexual abuse of a child, possession of an extreme pornographic image, and 11 charges relating to the possession, making, and distribution of indecent images of children.
After the guilty pleas were entered, Thomas’s prep school said in a statement: “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 serve at least eight years of the 12-year prison sentence, and will be the subject of a strict Sexual Harm Prevention Order once he is set free.