A British headteacher who cared for at least 131 children worldwide using social media at a school in Iraq has been sentenced to 20 months in prison.
Nicholas Clayton, 38, of The Wirral, used Facebook Messenger to contact children as young as 10, asking for photos and attempting to sexually assault them.
He was caught after asking a 13-year-old boy from Cambodia for photos of his naked upper body and arranging for the child to travel to Malaysia so they could meet.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) received intelligence on the communications and arrested him when he returned to the UK.
Investigators found that over a period of just three months, Clayton had sent messages to hundreds of boys from all over the world, spread across the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Iraq, Morocco, Turkey and others.
He appeared before the Crown Court in Liverpool on 23 August, where he admitted three counts of sexual communication with a child under 16 and one charge of incitement to sexually exploit a child.
On Tuesday, he was sentenced to 20 months in prison and subject to a sexual harm prevention order for 15 years.
New Facebook plans will ‘hide similar predators’
The case has sparked new calls for a “robust” online security law, with the NSPCC warning plans by Facebook-owned Meta to introduce end-to-end encryption, authorities will “blindfold” to similar predators.
Andy Burrows, head of online child safety policy at the charity, said: “Clayton’s case highlights the ease with which social media offenders can contact large numbers of children with the intent to nurse and sexually abuse them.
“Private messaging is the frontline of child sexual abuse online, so it’s worrying that Meta plans to continue end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger, which will blindfold itself and law enforcement to identify criminals like Clayton.
“The UK government can show global leadership in tackling online child abuse by delivering without delay a robust online safety law that embeds child protection at the heart of every social media site.”
New Culture Secretary Michelle Donelan has previously said there are no plans to water down proposals for new internet security laws, which Mr Burrows welcomed as “really encouraging”.
Subscribe to the daily podcast atapple podcasts, google podcasts, Spotify, Speaker
Hazel Stewart, of the NCA, said: “Nicholas Clayton has abused his position of trust as headteacher by attempting to sexually assault and exploit children, using technology to gain access to hundreds of potential victims around the world.
“Clayton was very careful and careful in his communication, which made them seem harmless, but as NCA researchers we were able to see the patterns of predatory grooming he used on vulnerable children.
“Protecting children from sex offenders is a priority for the NCA, and we will continue to prosecute criminals in the UK and internationally to ensure abusers like Clayton are held accountable.”
Facebook ‘takes our time to get it right’
A Facebook spokesperson said: “We do not tolerate child exploitation on our platforms and are building strong security measures into our plans.
“We’re focused on harm prevention by banning suspicious profiles, using standard private or ‘friends only’ accounts under the age of 18, and recently introduced restrictions that prevent adults from messaging children they don’t have. have ties.
“We also encourage people to report harmful messages to us so that we can see the content, respond quickly and refer them to authorities. As we roll out this technology, we are taking our time to get it right and working with external experts to keep people safe online.”