Hereford paedophile jailed for string of sex offences

A paedophile who groomed three young boys, encouraged others to get undressed online and filmed children in swimming pool changing rooms has been sentenced to nine years in prison.

Mark Smith touched the three young boys, all younger than 12, at his Hereford home where he masturbated in front of them after enticing them in with a game of darts.

The judge at Worcester Crown Court on Friday said Smith, 55, was “hiding a dark secret” and he had “blatant paedophilia tendencies” after the offences with the boys, which included sexually touching them and pulling their trousers down.

The offences only came to light when one of the boys was talking to his friend’s mother and the police were called.

Prosecution barrister Alexandra Ball said after Smith, of Grandstand Road, was arrested and two laptops were seized.

On there, police found 263 category B indecent pictures and videos, and 53 category C. These showed children aged between eight and 16 with adult men.

Ms Ball said the people were in “various states of undress”, and Smith had superimposed himself on some of the pictures.

She said Smith also used an online chat website which randomly pairs strangers, where he encouraged children to take their clothes off and had conversations which were “sexual in nature”.

They also found footage from the changing rooms of a public swimming pool, although it was not clear which one, where Smith used hidden cameras to record people getting changed.

She said the recordings, believed to have been made some time ago, were captured by hiding a camera in a bag he was carrying, or by sliding the phone underneath stalls. In some videos, Smith could be at the beginning of some videos.

Smith pleaded guilty to 13 offences, including sexually touching the three boys, making indecent photographs, and recording a person doing a private act for his own sexual gratification. He entered a not guilty plea for a 14th charge, but this was not pursued by prosecutors.

Sentencing Smith to a total of nine years in prison, Judge James Burbridge said the offences had long-lasting effects on the victims, and in some cases they lasted for life.

He made Smith the subject of an indefinite sexual harm prevention order, he will sign the sex offenders register and pay a victim surcharge.