A paedophile who used Pembrokeshire County Council to worm his way into the lives of children has been jailed for six years today (Tuesday) after he admitted child sex offences.
Michael John Smith, aged 49, was a line manager with Pembrokeshire Youth Service who was sacked after “several warnings” about inappropriate behaviour towards young people.
He went on to abuse the young son of a couple who supported him following his dismissal, a judge at Swansea crown court heard today.
Smith, of Prendergast, Haverfordwest, admitted three offences of sexually assaulting a child under the age of 13, four of causing or inciting the child to engage in sexual activity, two of taking indecent photographs of the child, four of making indecent images and one of possessing 1,136 indecent images of children.
Brian Simpson, prosecuting, said all the offences, apart from the last, related to the same boy.
He said Smith had worked for Pembrokeshire Youth Service and later Pembrokeshire Youth Action Service until he was dismissed in 2012 after children complained about the ways he touched them.
But before he was sacked, said Judge Paul Thomas, he had been given “several warnings.”
Mr Simpson said some people continued to support Smith but his response was to “groom” the son of one of the couples for his own sexual gratification, sometimes videoing himself as he abused the naked boy.
The alarm was raised when the boy’s parents noticed that he was becoming more sexualised, sometimes touching his mother’s bottom and talking about “humpy.”
He also developed sleeping difficulties and one night his father went into his bedroom and asked him if there was anything wrong. The boy told him Smith had shown “new ways of humpy.”
Mr Simpson said his father felt physically sick and called in the police.
Smith was arrested but denied ever touching the boy indecently. But officers took away computers and cameras, and found the two videos and the indecent images, 19 of which were in the most serious category.
Smith was arrested a second time and on being told about the evidence that had been discovered chose not say anything in reply to questions.
Mr Simpson said the boy now had bad dreams, felt sad and cried a lot. He did not play with friends in case he said something about what had happened and worried that Smith would hurt him because he had told the police about the abuse.
His father, said Mr Simpson, had felt suicidal. Both he and his wife had undergone counselling.
Jim Davis, the barrister representing Smith, said there was no doubt his sexual orientation was towards young boys and he might benefit from psychiatric treatment, although that would not be available in jail.
“The word betrayal is quite appropriate. He tells me he knows that an apology is not enough. He cannot find the words to express how sorry he is and how ashamed he is,” he said.
Mr Davis said Smith would be positively “extremely glad” if the judge made an order that would keep him away from children.
Judge Thomas said Smith had applied for jobs and positions as a senior youth worker and with the cubs, scouts and children’s homes so that he could have contact with young children.
He had used the boy, he added, as his own “sexual play thing without any regard to the consequences to a boy of that age.”
And he had even videoed the abuse.
Judge Thomas said he could pass consecutive sentences, but he had to have regard to the totality.
Smith was jailed for six years for causing the child to engage in sexual activity, four for sexual assault, two for videoing the abuse and 12 months for possessing indecent photographs, all to run concurrently.
Smith was also banned from working with children for life and ordered to register with the police as a sex offender, again for life.
Smith, who had arrived at court with a rucksack expecting a jail sentence, did not react to being sent down.
Pembrokeshire County Council statement following conviction of Michael Smith:
Pembrokeshire County Council welcomes today’s conviction of Michael Smith at Swansea Crown Court. Justice has been achieved for a vulnerable young person and our thoughts are with that young person and their family.
An effective piece of joint working between the Police and Social Services in Pembrokeshire has contributed to this successful prosecution.
The offences for which he has been convicted do not relate to his period of employment with the Council.
Michael ‘Mik’ Smith was employed as a youth worker for Pembrokeshire County Council but was dismissed in January, 2012.
It is a matter of fact that there were significant failings in the disciplinary standards within the Council’s Education directorate in 2005 when Mr Smith was the subject of various allegations about inappropriate behaviour.
A joint investigation by the Council and Dyfed-Powys Police at that time revealed no criminal activity or allegations of abuse.
The significant failings in the Council’s disciplinary processes was brought to the Authority’s attention by the national inspectorates in 2011, leading to formal intervention – intervention the Authority has accepted and acted on.
Since that time the Council has completely changed its procedures and management of the Education department and is confident that the failings of nine years ago would not be repeated now. No manager from the former Education directorate involved in the decision-making in 2005 is currently employed by the Authority.
Despite a further joint investigation with police, we have not received any allegations that he abused children while employed as a youth worker.
However, we urge anyone with any concerns to come forward and contact our duty team on 01437 776444 or the police on 101. They
can do so in complete confidence and in the full knowledge that these will be robustly investigated."