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Crown to seek detention order for 'Swirl Face' pedophile

RCMP escort Christopher Neil out of Richmond Provincial Court following an appearance in October. - CTV photo/Lisa Rossington
RCMP escort Christopher Neil out of Richmond Provincial Court following an appearance in October.
— image credit: CTV photo/Lisa Rossington

A Maple Ridge man who spent five years in a Thai prison for molesting children is facing 10 new charges for crimes in Cambodia and at home.

Christopher Paul Neil was arrested Friday without incident by B.C. RCMP Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) investigators in Vancouver.

Neil was the subject of an international manhunt in 2007 after Interpol unscrambled digitally swirled images of him engaging in sexual acts with young boys from Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia, ranging in age from six to 16.

The 38-year-old returned to Canada in 2012 after serving time in a Bangkok prison.

Neil now faces five new charges for sexual touching, invitation to sexual touching and production of child porn related to incidents in 2003 that took place in Cambodia.

He is also accused of possessing child porn in 2007 while in Maple Ridge, as well as possessing and viewing child porn in Vancouver last year.

“B.C. ICE has worked very closely with our international law enforcement community throughout this investigation,” said acting Supt. Ward Lymburner, with the B.C. Major Crime Section.

“The charges laid are the result of years of work in support of our efforts to identify and charge those involved in tourism for the purposes of committing sexual offences against children.”

Cambodian officials are aware of the investigation and the charges laid in connection with the allegations.

Neil appeared in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court on Monday and has been remanded in custody until a bail hearing, scheduled for April 10.

Outside court, his lawyer Mark Thompson told media that the charges Neil is facing are significant.

“Crown was telling me today that there have been only three or four charges of this kind in all of Canada,” Thompson said.

The penalties for child sex tourism are also severe, with Neil facing the prospect of 10 to 14 years in jail.

Crown will be opposing Neil’s bail application.

Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie confirmed that prosecutors will be seeking a detention order.

“Should the order be granted, he would be held pending trial or until a different order might be made.”

Neil was placed under an 18-month peace bond when he returned to Canada in October 2012 as police believed he was a risk to public safety. The peace bond prohibited Neil from accessing the Internet via a computer or phone.

In October, however, Neil pleaded guilty to breaching the peace bond after Vancouver police found he had accessed the Internet via a laptop computer. He has yet to be sentenced for the breach, but Crown will be seeking jail.

Neil grew up in Maple Ridge, but has no fixed address at the moment. His family still lives in the community.

Neil attended the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission from 1995 to 1999 and received a B.C. independent teaching certificate in 2000.

He also volunteered at St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Maple Ridge in 2000 and 2001 and was a substitute teacher at Arch Bishop Carney in Port Coquitlam in 2007.

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