CityNews – Canadian paedophile Christopher Neil, who was nicknamed ‘Swirly Face’ for creating digital swirl effects over photographs of his face to hide his identity, was the subject of Interpol’s largest global manhunt in 2007 and ultimately served the next five years in a Thai prison. He is believed to have molested at least 12 boys across Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand, and has been found guilty of producing and possessing child pornography countless times. However, Canadian authorities are still pursuing charges against him 8 years after he first came to international attention.
Christopher, who had previously taught and studied to become a Catholic priest while still living in British Colombia, had later become a school teacher after being denied priesthood. He was living and teaching in Gwanju, South Korea, when images began to circulate on the Internet where he could be seen abusing children with his face obscured by a digital blur. Once the original photographs were reconstructed they were shared on Interpol’s website and other websites around the world, which led to hundreds of people contacting the authorities to identify the man as Christopher Neil.
Once Christopher was publicly named he bought a one-way ticket to Thailand, where he continued teaching in the Isan region of Nakhon Ratchasima. He allegedly hired a young Thai person to trick young boys from the local Internet cafes to come to his apartment and perform sexual services. Thai police caught up with him in October 2007, and when he arrived at the Royal Thai National Police Headquarters, there were so many people present to witness his demise that a dangerous stampede ensued.
In August 2008, Christopher was sentenced to six years in prison, which was reduced to 39 months (3.25 years) for his cooperation, as well as a 60,000 baht fine. However, his sentence was modified again a few months later when he was convicted for abusing another young boy, and the three years was doubled to six. In total, Christopher served five years of his sentence, and returned to Canada in September 2012, where he was swiftly arrested at the Vancouver International Airport.
Christopher next appears in court on 12th May this year on five new charges, including sexual behaviour with a child, invitations of sexual behaviour with a child, and the production and possession of child pornography in Vancouver as recent as last year. These charges were filed after the Canadian police and their child exploitation team got in touch with Thai authorities and found more vital information about the paedophile spanning Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. In October 2013, he pled guilty to possessing child pornography on his laptop and mobile phone. He remains in custody as his bail has been repeatedly denied due to outstanding charges of child abuse in Cambodia back in 2003.
It’s possible Christopher will face even harsher penalties in his home country than he did in Thailand because child sex tourism charges have rarely been filed in Canada. Each of the five charges related to Cambodia carry a maximum sentence of ten years imprisonment, with the charges linked to Vancouver carrying a maximum of 5 years in jail for possessing and/or accessing child pornography, and a maximum of 10 years for producing and/or distributing it.