‘Bitcoin-mining’ paedophile art teacher downloaded child abuse videos from dark web

Stokesley School, Stokesley

A ‘Bitcoin-miningpaedophile teacher who downloaded child abuse videos from the dark web – then tried to delete them – has been banned from the profession.

Temporary art teacher Matthew Walker had only been qualified for a number of months when he began making indecent photographs of children. The 31-year-old, who was employed at Stokesley School – located on Station Road, Stokesley, Middlesbrough – as a cover supervisor and temporary art teacher from January 2019, was arrested on February 5, 2019, and his computer was seized by police.

The Teesside man admitted that the device contained numerous indecent images of children, which had been accessed, opened and shared between May 4, 2018, and February, 2019. He pleaded guilty to making 57 category A still images, 81 category A videos, one category B still image, five category B videos, one category C still image; and three category C videos of children at Teesside Crown Court in November 2021.

Walker, who was also formerly employed by Vision for Education including undertaking supply teaching at the Freebrough Academy, in Brotton, as an art teacher between September and October 2018, admitted to downloading images and videos to his computer and that he attempted to delete them using specialist software. He further admitted to sharing the images using peer to peer software.

Further details of Walker’s criminal actions have now been revealed following publication of a professional conduct panel of the Teaching Regulation Agency (TRA) document. The report states that the ex-teacher sought to explain his actions by stating that the events came about because he “used to mine bitcoin, which then moved into buying computer parts on the deepweb as they were only available there for decent prices”.

It adds: “His representations state that after he received hard drives that he had bought, he had been trying to be thorough in seeking to delete everything on them. He stated that even at the time of the criminal court hearing, this seemed illogical and was hazy in his memory. He ought to have known to report the matter had he discovered images on hard drives he had bought, rather than seeking to delete them, and the panel therefore considered Mr Walker’s actions to be deliberate.”

‘This is my life now’

Walker pleaded guilty on the day of trial having previously entered not guilty pleas in August 2020 and at a pre-trial review in April 2021. Although Walker pleaded guilty to the criminal proceedings and admitted the allegations, in representations to the TRA in July 2022, he stated that: “The entire situation, which is what led to the guilty plea so that it’d all just be over and so I’d prefer this to be as least invasive as possible…It doesn’t really matter what I say or how I try and explain how it all happened though, as this is my life now and I’m still trying to accept that.”

In representations on November 23, 2022, Walker referred to the pressure of teacher training as being one of the factors that got him into the situation he found himself in. He went on to state “overall it was [REDACTED] that led me to where I am. I don’t actually have that type of interest in children, I’m not a danger to anyone, including children, but none of that matters because I plead guilty and on paper my thoughts, my situations and circumstances don’t matter anymore and I’ve accepted that.”

In December 2021, Walker was sentenced to 12 months imprisonment suspended for 18 months and 100 hours unpaid work. He was also slapped with a 10-year sexual harm prevention order and ordered to pay costs, including £250 towards the cost of the prosecution and a £140 victim surcharge.

‘Found training difficult’

The panel members – Mona Sood, Richard Young, Nicola Anderson and legal advisor Luisa Gibbons – concluded that Walker’s conduct involved breaches of the Teachers’ Standards. They added that the teacher breached the following standards:

  • Teachers uphold public trust in the profession and maintain high standards of ethics and behavior, within and outside school, by

– treating pupils with dignity, building relationships rooted in mutual respect, and at all times observing proper boundaries appropriate to a teacher’s professional position

– having regard for the need to safeguard pupils’ well-being, in accordance with statutory provisions

  • Teachers must have proper and professional regard for the ethos, policies and practices of the school in which they teach, and maintain high standards in their own attendance and punctuality.
  • Teachers must have an understanding of, and always act within, the statutory frameworks which set out their professional duties and responsibilities.

The panel noted that the offense committed by Walker was relevant to teaching, working with children and working in an education setting given that it is indicative of a sexual interest in children. They added that the behavior involved in committing the offense would have been likely to have had an impact on the safety and/or security of children depicted in the images.

“The majority of the images downloaded were Category A images, the most serious category,” the report states. “Furthermore, the images included a large amount of video images. At the time of Mr Walker’s arrest he was a newly qualified teacher and had not yet had the opportunity to develop any record of note of his proficiency as a teacher.”

The document, from the private meeting, stated that “it was apparent from Mr Walker’s representations that he found teacher training difficult and although he enjoyed delivering lessons and supporting pupils, he could not foresee a future as a teacher, even without the criminal proceedings”.

‘Force for good in the world’

The panel was provided with six references which were prepared for the purpose of Walker’s criminal trial. Collectively, these attested to Walker being “kind and hardworking; that he helped others without expecting anything in return; [REDACTED], that he had shown deep regret for the way he handled the situation, and their perceptions that Mr Walker posed no threat”.

One person who provided a reference described the sex offender as “nothing short of a force for good in the world”, referencing that he “would go to the ends of the world to help a stranger in need” and clearly motivated to perform acts of kindness to make the world a better place [REDACTED].”

The report adds: “The referee stated that while Mr Walker was ‘both feeding the homeless and carrying the weight of an entire business on his shoulders, his world and his mind was falling apart. He never once asked for help and tries to take it all on alone.’

Wages, weekends and sleep

The panel also considered Walker’s own representations that “being a teacher takes many things that I thought I had, but the willingness to sacrifice on things like my evenings, my sleep schedule, my weekends, my wages is something I do not have”. They stated that his statement “indicates Mr Walker’s own view of his suitability to be a teacher”.

The panel was of the view that prohibition was “proportionate and appropriate”. The report states: “The panel decided that the public interest considerations outweighed the interests of Mr Walker. The seriousness and nature of the offence, being one that supports the exploitation of children, was a significant factor in forming that opinion. Accordingly, the panel made a recommendation to the Secretary of State that a prohibition order should be imposed with immediate effect.”


David Oatley, on behalf of the Secretary of State, imposed a prohibition order “in order to maintain public confidence in the profession” and “no review period is necessary”.

The report concludes: “This means that Mr Matthew Walker is prohibited from teaching indefinitely and cannot teach in any school, sixth form college, relevant youth accommodation or children’s home in England. Furthermore, in view of the seriousness of the allegations found proved against him, I have decided that Mr Walker shall not be entitled to apply for restoration of his eligibility to teach.”

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