A convicted paedophile, caught working in a West Norwood nursery after staff there recognised him from a national TV programme screened about his previous crimes, has been spared an immediate jail sentence.

Andrew Smith, 37, who evaded CRB checks to get a job this summer at Norwood Manor Day Nursery in Chapel Road, was arrested on September 27, after horrified staff spotted him on ITV1 programme How to Catch a paedophile and alerted police.

The programme covered an undercover police operation last year to snare Smith, who sent a string of perverted internet messages and webcam footage of him performing a solo sex act to someone he thought was a 13-year-old girl “Becky”, but was in fact a police officer.

He was jailed as a result for the “grooming offences” but released last December.

Sentencing him at Southwark Crown Court on Tuesday, Judge Christopher Hardy said while it was “a serious matter” Smith had breached a ban from working with children given to him when originally jailed, he believed he had “not actively sought" to work with children.

Defence lawyer Revantha Amarasinha told the court how Smith, who was employed as a chef for temporary placements through the Reed Employment agency, had worked at the nursery for two weeks on two separate occasions in July and September as “a calculated risk” because “he feared losing his job if he turned work down”.

He said Smith was desperate for cash because he was still in debt from losses incurred while running a crisp manufacturing company before being jailed in 2008.

The court heard there was "no evidence" of any "direct harm" to any child there and he had "tried to avoid contact with children”.

Judge Hardy handed Smith, of West Norwood, a six month jail term suspended for 12 months, a 12 month supervision order, and ordered him to do 160 hours of unpaid work.

He said: “If there was any question you had deliberately sought this sort of employment you would be receiving an immediate sentence of incarceration.”

He had lied to Reed about not having a criminal record when he went seeking work following his release from prison, and the agency did not check him out further because he had a clean CRB check from when he worked with the agency in 2004.

The nursery did not check his record because it trusted Reed’s recommendation, the court heard.

The press were asked not to publish Smith’s address as threats had been made there by parents of children at the £965 a month nursery.