3 July 2008

‘Some of the worst paedophile material’

A paedophile who groomed young girls on the internet has been described as a collecter of some of the worst material a police officer has ever seen.

Michael Smith, 55, of Church Road, Hayes, was jailed for at least three years on Thursday for multiple charges of sexual activity with children.

He was caught in January this year when officers stopped him in his car with a 15-year-old girl, while he was driving without insurance.

The girl later told police Smith, a labourer, had forced her into sexual activity on more than one occasion.

A search of Smith’s address led to the seizure of a number of computers and other storage devices.

Following an analysis conducted by the Met’s High Tech Crime Unit, Smith was discovered to be in possession of approx 20,000 indecent images of children including many movies.

In his 20 years of being a police officer, Detective Sergeant John Price said material found on Smith’s computer was indescribable.

DS John Price of Hillingdon Police was heading the Sapphire Unit at the time, which investigated the case.

He said “After the first search nothing was found. But I know how these people work and wanted the property searched again.

“That was when we found all the material. Almost 10,000 of the images were of young girls from a web camera.”

He added: “I have been a police officer for 20 years and this was some of the worst paedophile material I have ever seen.”

DS Price said since Smith moved from Ireland in 2004 he had been grooming girls on the internet from that time onwards.

Under the guise Ben Tyler’, Smith pretended to be 18-years-old, and used internet popular internet teenage chat rooms Bebo, Habbo and MSN to engage with young girls and eventually go on to groom them.

Although Smith has been convicted, DS Price still feels there are other victims they do not know about.

He added: “We know he has met at least another girl but we do not know who she is. He has been grooming other girls and we have got evidence of that.

“I am also convinced he has victims all over the place, not just in Hillingdon.”

“He used the internet as a tool to hand-pick his young unsuspecting victims,.

“They believed they could trust Smith and never thought for one minute they would be speaking to a predatory paedophile that would go on to violate their trust.”

He asked for other victims to come forward and speak to police.

He said: “I appeal to them to come forward and call West Drayton Sapphire Unit on 0208 246 1583.

“All calls will be treated with the utmost confidence.”

Smith was jailed for the protection of the public and must spend at least three years behind bars before he is eligible for parole.

He must also sign on the Sex Offenders’ Register for life.