A British headteacher who used social media to groom at least 131 children worldwide while working at a school in Iraq has been jailed, the National Crime Agency confirmed.
38-year-old Nicholas Clayton, from The Wirral, contacted the children, who were as young as 10, via Facebook Messenger, he asked them for photographs of themselves and tried to sexually exploit them.
Clayton was working as the headteacher at an international school in the Kurdistan region of Iraq while targeting young victims from multiple countries using social media.
The sexual predator was caught after requesting nude photos from a 13-year-old Cambodian boy and arranging for him to travel to Malaysia so they could meet.
The NCA uncovered the communication and arrested Clayton when he returned to the UK.
Following his arrest, authorities found that Clayton had been sending similar messages to hundreds of young boys from various countries, including the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Indonesia, Morocco, Iraq, Thailand, and Turkey, over a period of just three months.
He appeared at Liverpool Crown Court on Tuesday and was sentenced to 20 months behind bars and handed a Sexual Harm Prevention Order for 15 years.
Andy Burrows, head of child safety online policy at the NSPCC, said: "Clayton's case highlights the ease with which offenders can contact large numbers of children on social media with the intention of grooming and sexually abusing them.
"Private messaging is the frontline of child sexual abuse online. It's therefore concerning that Meta plans to press on with end-to-end encryption on Facebook Messenger, which will blindfold themselves and law enforcement from identifying criminals like Clayton.
"The UK Government can show global leadership in tackling online child abuse by delivering without delay a robust Online Safety Bill that embeds child protection at the heart of every social media site."
Hazel Stewart, from the NCA, said: "Nicholas Clayton abused his position of trust as a headteacher by attempting to sexually contact and exploit children, using technology to access hundreds of potential victims across the globe.
"Clayton was very cautious and careful in his communications, making them appear to be innocent, but as NCA investigators we could see the patterns of predatory grooming he was using 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 abusers like Clayton are held to account."