Former DJ and worker at Norfolk school was a 'deviant sexual predator'

Convicted sex offender Michael Smith.

Convicted sex offender Michael Smith. - Credit: Norfolk Constabulary

A vulnerable victim of a "deviant sexual predator" suffered a mental breakdown after being exploited by a former worker at a Norfolk school, a court has heard.

Michael Smith, 64, worked at a special school in Norfolk which catered for children with complex needs.

The former DJ was convicted of a total of 17 sexual offences, 15 of which were against one victim and two, causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity, were committed against a second victim.

On Monday, he was handed a 28-year sentence, including 21 years in prison.

Other offences included five counts of causing/inciting sexual activity with a male with a mental disorder, three counts of causing or inciting sexual activity with a male with a mental disorder and engaging in a sexual activity in the presence of a person with a mental disorder.

The offences happened to the victims, who cannot be named for legal reasons, over a four-year period between 2014 and 2018.

Norwich Crown Court heard Smith continued to abuse one of the vulnerable victims after he had finished school.

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Smith, of High Street, Dereham, appeared in court for sentence on Monday (September 27), having been convicted of 17 offences earlier this year.

Before he was sentenced, Andrew Thompson, prosecuting, read a statement on behalf of one of the victims.

Mr Thompson said since telling police about what had happened the victim said his "life has become so much harder”.

He said he was finding it hard to keep any relationship going and no longer trusted people while his mum “cries all the time” and tells him “she failed”.

The victim said he “can’t trust people in authority” and has suffered a “total mental breakdown”.

He has since had admissions to a mental health hospital, the court heard, cannot sleep until the early hours and can no longer go out on his own.

He said the case had "destroyed" his family.

In a message to Smith, the victim said: “You took my childhood I’m glad you can’t take anyone else’s.”

Handing Smith an extended 28-year sentence made up of 21 years in prison and seven on licence, Judge Andrew Shaw told Smith he was "an extremely troubling man".

He said: "You were little more than a deviant sexual predator."

Judge Shaw said Smith, who had been assessed as a “high risk to children and young vulnerable adults”, was a dangerous offender and described the offences as some of the most "egregious abuses of trust the court has ever encountered".

Ian James, mitigating, accepted there had been “appalling behaviour on behalf of the defendant”.

He said Smith had worked for years in environments where there was access to children but added that no other people, aside from the two victims in this case, had come forward to make a complaint.

While Mr James said there was not “full blown sorrow” from the defendant, there had been recognition of his sorrow.

Following a trial in May Smith was found guilty of one count of engaging in sexual activity in the presence of a child, causing and inciting a child to engage in sexual activity and causing or inciting a person with a mental disorder impeding choice to engage in sexual activity.

The jury at Norwich Crown Court took fewer than three hours to convict Smith of all charges.

During the trial the vulnerable victim gave his evidence and was cross examined on a pre-recorded video, which was a first for Norfolk.

The measures deployed meant the victim did not have to directly attend court while the trial took place, but was able to give his evidence in advance.

Smith was also made the subject of a Sexual Harm Prevention Order (SHPO) indefinitely and must also sign on the sex offenders register indefinitely.

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