A British man who was the principal of an international school in Iraq has been jailed after grooming children around the world via social media and attempting to sexually exploit them.
Nicholas Clayton, 38, from Wirral, was working in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq when he used Facebook Messenger to contact children as young as 10 in several countries, caring for them and asking for photos.
Investigators from the National Crime Agency identified Clayton as the perpetrator after learning that a 13-year-old Cambodian boy had been contacted via Facebook Messenger by a man requesting photos of his shirtless body.
He had subsequently arranged to pay for the boy’s trip to Malaysia so they could meet.
Clayton was arrested by NCA officers when he returned to the UK. To reduce the potential risk of further crime, NCA officials successfully obtained a sex risk court order barring Clayton from worldwide travel while the investigation continued.
Investigators then received more messages from social media platforms showing that Clayton had communicated with hundreds of boys from the ages of 10 to their late teens around the world over a period of just three months.
Chats were found with victims in the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Iraq, Morocco and Turkey, among others.
Clayton appeared in Liverpool Magistrates Court on August 23, where he pleaded guilty to three counts of sexual communication with a child under the age of 16 and one charge of inciting the sexual exploitation of a child.
He was sentenced by Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday (September 20) to 20 months in prison and a 15-year sexual harm prevention order.
Recorder Ian Harris described Clayton’s behavior as “stubborn, repulsive and insidious”.
NCA’s Hazel Stewart said: “Nicholas Clayton abused his position of trust as a school principal by attempting to sexually contact and exploit children, using technology to gain access to hundreds of potential victims around the world.
“Clayton was very careful and cautious in his disclosures, making them appear innocent, but as an NCA investigator, we were able to see the patterns of predatory care he used on vulnerable children.
“Protecting children from sex offenders is a priority for the NCA and we continue to pursue criminals in the UK and internationally to ensure offenders like Clayton are held accountable.”