A 42-year-old former councillor and primary school teacher has been jailed for two years and nine months after being found guilty of making and distributing thousands of indecent images of children (IIOC).
National Crime Agency officers arrested Matthew Sephton, also a former Tory Councillor in Altrincham, in December 2016 at his home address and seized his phones and computer.
Forensic examination of the devices showed that Sephton had searched for and downloaded thousands of IIOC, some of which were in the worst category possible.
On one of his phones was a chat application through which Sephton was a member of various groups dedicated to sharing child abuse images.
Also recovered was a series of messages on What’sApp and Facebook Messenger between Sephton and Richard Willis, in which the pair exchanged multiple child abuse images and discussed their sexual preferences.
Willis, a former town councillor for Sleaford in Lincolnshire, was convicted for sharing IIOC in June 2017.
Sephton denied the charges against him and claimed that a man named ‘Tom’ was responsible for downloading the images and sending the messages. Despite extensive enquiries by the NCA investigation team, the existence of ‘Tom’ was never proved.
Today at Minshull Street Crown Court Sephton was found guilty of six counts of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children and was sentenced to two years and nine months in prison. He will also be placed on the sex offenders register for life.
Hazel Stewart, NCA CEOP Operations Manager, said: “Throughout his offending, Matthew Sephton held positions of trust as both a primary school teacher and a local councillor.
“He was expected to be a role model for children but was actively involved in sharing the most horrendous child abuse images imaginable.
“Every time these images are shared, the child is victimised again and again.
“NCA officers are dedicated to protecting children. they work closely with our law enforcement partners to target and identify those using online tools to perpetuate child abuse and bring them to justice.”
The NCA continues to work closely with the local authority and the school at which Sephton was employed to ensure safeguarding measures are in place.