November 2017

Pervert teaching assistant targets two boys online in Southend

A TEACHING assistant at a secondary school in the Southend borough has been spared jail after he targeted two teenage boys online and sent them sexually explicit messages.

Brett Smith, 24, of Hogarth Drive, Shoebury, admitted two counts of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity.

Basildon Crown Court heard how he found his victims, a 14-year-old boy and a 12-year-old boy, on Facebook using a fake profile in September 2015.

He then sent both boys a large number of messages, containing sexually explicit details and asking to meet up so he could engage in sexual activity with them.

Smith’s messages were discovered by one of the victim’s fathers, who intercepted them and reported him to the police.

An investigation led officers to his address where he was arrested and charged.

Prosecuting at a sentencing hearing yesterday, Laureen Husain said: “The defendant said he knew about the messages.

“He also said ‘This is going to ruin my career. I knew I shouldn’t have done it. It was a mistake’.”

Smith, who only had an administrative role at a school and did not have direct contact with any children, was given a community order and must complete a sex offenders treatment programme.

He must also sign the sex offenders register for five years and be subject to a sexual harm prevention order.

The father of one of the victims, who will remain anonymous for legal reasons, has spoken out about the importance of remaining vigilant online. He said: “Luckily we intercepted the messages he sent to our son, who had enough about him not to respond. Had he targeted someone more vulnerable, who knows what would have happened. He could’ve followed through with what he had said.

“We’re proud that we followed it through and helped him get convicted.

“Hopefully this shows parents need to be vigilant.”