A convicted pedophile from Maple Ridge, who was arrested last week when he landed in Canada after serving time in a Thai prison, remains behind bars for now, but could be released later this week.
Christopher Paul Neil appeared in Richmond Provincial Court on Monday and consented to remain in custody until Wednesday, when a bail hearing is scheduled.
Police arrested the 37-year-old former teacher at Vancouver airport on Friday, when he returned to Canada from Thailand, where he spent five years in prison for sexually abusing young boys.
The RCMP’s Integrated Child Exploitation unit obtained a warrant for Neil’s arrest under a rarely used section of the Criminal Code that’s designed to protect the public before a criminal offence is committed.
Police allege Neil’s actions cause fear of sexual offences to persons under the age of 16.
“Christopher Neil has no criminal record in Canada, but his actions in other countries were such that police felt it important to have him appear in front of a court so any public safety concerns can be addressed,” said Cpl. Mat. Van Laer.
Crown will be applying for a Section 810 peace bond, which is a preventative court order that could include conditions that prohibit Neil from accessing the Internet or being near children.
Neil could be released on bail before a peace bond is imposed.
“Crown will seek protective conditions governing his release into the community, pending the application for a peace bond,” said Samantha Hulme, a spokesperson for B.C.’s criminal justice branch.
Neil was the subject of an international manhunt in 2007 after Interpol unscrambled digitally swirled images of him molesting young boys.
After the Interpol warrant was issued, Neil fled from South Korea, where he was teaching English, to Thailand.
Cambodian police have a warrant out for Neil’s arrest connected to allegations of abuse in that country.
Brian McConaghy, who founded NGO Ratanak International, has seen the evidence against Neil and commends police for arresting the man as soon as he landed in Canada.
“This is a man who is coming back with a serious track record of abuse,” said McConaghy, who worked as a forensic scientist with the RCMP for 22 years.
He helped Cambodian police investigate Neil and hopes Crown will investigate the possibility of additional charges for crimes he has yet to be prosecuted for.
McConaghy also investigated Donald Bakker, the first Canadian convicted under revamped sex tourism laws.
“Just on principle we should move against anyone who is a risk to kids here and who has clearly demonstrated to be a predator, and [Neil] has clearly demonstrated that,” McConaghy added.
“We have a moral obligation to do that.”
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 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 for five days in April and May of 2007.
There are no allegations of abuse against him while he was teaching in B.C.