Sacked school security guard returned to steal iPads

A security guard sacked by a grammar school returned at night to steal a stash of iPads – but was rumbled when the head teacher recognised his “distinctive gait” on CCTV. James Matthews, 32, smashed through the door of the IT department at Simon Langton Grammar School in Canterbury to reach the brand-new Apple devices.

James Matthews, 32, of New Dover Road, Canterbury, pictured outside Canterbury Crown Court James Matthews, 32, of New Dover Road, Canterbury, pictured outside Canterbury Crown Court

Despite being captured on film, he returned twice and fled with about 26 of the gadgets, which had been intended for disadvantaged pupils during lockdown. But CCTV footage from the boys school in Langton Lane saw him arrested within days.

Police raided his home and found two hidden iPads still in their boxes.

Matthews initially denied burglary after his arrest but owned up after being shown CCTV footage from the school. Prosecutor John Connor told Canterbury Crown Court how staff returned after the weekend and became aware the doors to the IT department had been forced open.

‘Those iPads would have been given to students from low-income families.’

“CCTV was reviewed by the headmaster, Ken Mofatt, who identified [Matthews] because he has a distinctive gait,” he said. Mr Mofatt said the iPads were intended to help pupils without computers through the pandemic.

He will seek a restraining order to keep Matthews away from the school and compensation.

“It is not just the [money] the school has to pay – there will be 26 students who will be disadvantaged by the burglary,” he said. “Those iPads would have been given to students from low-income families.”

Langton Boys' head Ken Moffat Langton Boys’ head Ken Moffat

The court heard Matthews had suffered “financial hardship since losing his job”, having been sacked because of timesheet discrepancies. He hoped to sell the iPads in a bid to pay rent shortfalls while suffering mental health difficulties, his barrister, Phil Rowley, said.

Ten of the devices were later recovered from second-hand store CEX in Canterbury’s St George’s Street, while 14 remain outstanding. Matthews, of New Dover Road, Canterbury, could be jailed later this year after admitting three counts of non-domestic burglary. Ordering probation reports, Judge Mark Weekes told him: “I want a report on you because I want to know a bit more about you and about what happens behind your decision making and thinking skills.

“It is an odd thing to do. Sorry about the vernacular, but it’s going from 0-60mph.” Matthews will be sentenced on December 16.

He was granted conditional bail.

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