Police, Fire & Court

Primary school teacher and Altrincham councillor Matthew Sephton jailed after being found guilty of child porn charges

By David Prior at

A Conservative councillor and primary school teacher has been jailed for two years and nine months after being found guilty of making, possessing and distributing indecent images of children.

Matthew Sephton, 42, who was elected to represent Altrincham on Trafford Council in May 2014, was found guilty by a jury after a five-day trial at Manchester’s Minshull Street Crown Court.

The charges also related to extreme pornography. Sephton will be placed on the sex offenders’ register for life.

The Manchester Evening News reports that, during a raid on his home on Maximus Drive in Altrincham on December 2016, officers from the National Crime Agency found 31 indecent videos of children and 3,774 indecent photographs of children on two iPhones and an Apple Mac computer belonging to Sephton.

Sephton, who had also been a primary school teacher at Westmorland Primary School in Brinnington, had said he was “absolutely dumbstruck” on the morning of his arrest and claimed that a man called “Tom” who he had met on Canal Street was responsible for the images and data on his devices.

Matthew Sephton arriving at court this week

But the prosecution revealed he had not mentioned “Tom” to police until October last year, 10 months after his arrest.

Prosecutor Huw Edwards told Sephton: “I suggest that gave you time to concoct your defence, that it was about this mythical man called Tom. You invented him to take the blame for what you did.

“Is it a coincidence that Tom left your phone with these images on in your bedside table hours before the NCA arrived?

“After your arrest on December 1, 2016, Tom didn’t knock on your door any more and you didn’t bump into him, as you say you did previously.

“I suggest that the reason for that is that he doesn’t exist.”

Forensic examination of the devices showed that Sephton had searched for and downloaded thousands of indecent images of children (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 WhatsApp 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.

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. We work closely with our law enforcement partners to target and identify those using online tools to perpetuate child abuse and bring them to justice.”

Photos: Cavendish Press