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Former teacher faces 10 new child pornography-related charges

Christopher Paul Neil arrives at the Bangkok Criminal Court August 15, 2008.


A British Columbia man who spent five years in a Thai prison for sexually abusing children is facing 10 new charges.

Christopher Paul Neil, a former teacher from Maple Ridge, B.C., who came to be known as "Swirl Face" for the effect used in an attempt to conceal his identity in digital images, was arrested without incident by investigators from the RCMP's Integrated Child Exploitation (ICE) unit in Vancouver on Friday. The arrest relates to two investigations: one by ICE and one by the Vancouver Police Department.

In 2004, German police discovered online about 200 images of someone sexually abusing boys. Computer experts digitally unscrambled the swirl effect that obscured the man's face, and Interpol, an international police organization, issued an alert that drew nearly 400 tips. Five people identified Mr. Neil as a possible suspect.

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He was arrested in Bangkok in October, 2007, and charged with sexual offences against children. After serving five years in prison, Mr. Neil returned to Canada under strict conditions that included staying away from places children would congregate and not having Internet access.

In September, 2012, Thai officials confirmed they had not used evidence provided by ICE in their prosecution, according to B.C. RCMP. The unit reviewed its file and conducted follow-up investigations, resulting in six new charges that were approved on Friday: two counts of sexual touching, two counts of invitation to sexual touching, one count of production and one count of possession of child pornography.

The possession charge relates to an investigation in 2007 in Maple Ridge, while the rest relate to incidents that occurred in Cambodia in 2003, police say. Under Section 7 of the Criminal Code, Canadian authorities can investigate and prosecute Canadians for some offences committed in other countries.

Mr. Neil also faces four more charges – two each of accessing and possessing child pornography – related to a 2013 investigation in Vancouver. Mr. Neil had pleaded guilty in October to violating a condition that prohibited him from possessing devices that could access the Internet, and in a December hearing, a Crown prosecutor said police had evidence Mr. Neil had used a computer to view child pornography.

He will remain in custody until his appearance in Port Coquitlam Provincial Court on Monday.

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