International Law

8 years after landmark international manhunt, ex-teacher gets time for Cambodia child-sex crimes

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More than eight years after an international manhunt for a “swirl face” pedophile made headlines due to innovative use of technology and the internet, the criminal justice system is still addressing crimes committed by Christopher Paul Neil.

Eventually identified, despite the digital swirling of his own face on child sex-abuse photos he himself apparently posted on the internet more than 12 years ago, the onetime Canadian schoolteacher ended up spending nearly five years behind bars in Thailand for molesting two boys.

But that case addressed only some of the incriminating photos found in an investigation of Neil after he was identified as a suspect through an unprecedented online appeal for information by Interpol. The notorious “swirl face” photos that sparked the probe showed a man molesting two boys at a hotel in Cambodia, and for those Neil was never held accountable—until now, reports the Canadian Press.

Following his return to Canada in 2012 on an early pardon, Neil was jailed in 2014 after he was found to have violated an order that banned him from possessing a laptop computer. Police in Vancouver then discovered child pornography, which sparked further investigation of the Cambodian crimes.

On Wednesday, the 41-year-old Neil was sentenced to a five-and-a-half-year prison term by a judge in British Columbia, after pleading guilty in December to five child-sex crimes over a 10-year period, including some rarely prosecuted child sex-tourism crimes, the article reports.

They included sexual interference in Cambodia in 2003, child pornography possession in Maple Ridge, British Columbia, in 2007 and accessing child pornography in Vancouver in 2013. He had originally faced 10 charges, including allegations of image production in Cambodia.

With credit for time served, Neil should be free again in 14 months. At that point, he will be banned from international travel during three years of probation and prohibited from using devices that can access the Internet for five years.

Related coverage: “Teacher ID’d After Interpol Public Plea Gets 39 Months in Child Sex Abuse Case”

Canadian Press: “‘Swirl Face’ pedophile regrets offences, apologizes to victims”

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