The Maple Ridge News (British Columbia)
Published: October 04, 2012 2:00 PM
Updated: October 04, 2012 2:27 PM
By Editorial – Maple Ridge News
Christopher Paul Neil, a convicted pedophile from Maple Ridge, was set free on Wednesday, with conditions.
A former teacher, Neil spent the past five years in a Thai prison for molesting two young boys, although the Interpol warrant that led to his arrest was for 12 such assaults. He was released after five years and as part of an amnesty to mark the 80th birthday of the Thai queen.
The 37-year-old man was then arrested by RCMP at Vancouver airport under a rarely used section of the Criminal Code designed to protect the public before a criminal offence is committed. This week, Neil consented to the peace bond, and was added to the national sex offender registry. Conditions imposed on him include surrendering his passport, no access the Internet via a computer or phone, and staying away from parks, playgrounds and schools. Neil must also report to a probation officer and seek psychiatric help.
He could be arrested for breaching these restrictions, but are they enough?
The peace bond expires in April 2014, unless Crown renews it. But it likely won’t be if he stays out of trouble.
Neil grew up in Maple Ridge, but has no fixed address at the moment. His family still lives in the community. He plans now on finding a job.
Before his arrest, Neil was a teacher in Thailand and South Korea. He was also a substitute teacher at Arch Bishop Carney in Port Coquitlam, and prior to that volunteered at St. Patrick’s Catholic School in Maple Ridge.
He can’t go near a school now.
Neil is not facing any criminal charges in Canada, but Cambodian police have a warrant out for his arrest connected to allegations of abuse in that country. Police in B.C. and Germany previously seized hundreds of images of child pornography and of Neil sexually assaulting children, some as young as six.
He was so bold as to post hundreds of images of himself committing sexual acts with young boys, and to digitally disguise his identity, and his previous jobs all put him in position to work alongside children.
The conditions placed on Neil are all police can do to protect them, for now.
But they are an indication that he is a high risk to reoffend.
Canada should confer with Cambodian officials and have Neil extradited to face charges there.
No one else should have to be harmed before others can be spared.
– Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows News
VANCOUVER — British Columbia’s “Swirly Face” child-sex offender, back in Canada after serving jail time in Thailand for child abduction and porn, was released from local custody Wednesday but will have to abide by strict court-ordered conditions for the next 18 months.
B.C. provincial court judge Patrick Chen ordered Christopher Paul Neil, 37, to surrender all his travel documents, prohibited him from leaving B.C., and decided he can’t be in contact with anyone under 16 unless given official permission, among other conditions.
The former Maple Ridge teacher gained his nickname after foreign authorities unmasked his face — which had been digitally distorted by a swirl pattern — in a photo depicting sexual abuse of South Asian children. He was arrested in 2007.
Defence counsel Mark Thompson called the conditions “onerous,” but told the court Neil would abide. He added Neil is not the worst among sex offenders out there.
“I understand the police are going to be watching him for some time anyway. I don’t think in the short term there’s anyone that needs to be worried about him,” Thompson told reporters outside court.
Neil was given the opportunity to speak in court but his lawyer declined on his behalf.
Other court conditions include Neil not being allowed within 100 metres of any place where children can reasonably be expected to be.
He has to also let law enforcement examine his electronics and storage devices if asked, is prohibited from accessing the Internet, needs to carry a copy of his conditions whenever he’s outside his residence, and must attend a clinic — though he’s not required to undergo treatment unless he desires it.
In 2008, Neil was found guilty of abducting a minor and distributing photos of obscene acts and sentenced by Thai officials to six-and-a-half-years in prison. That sentence was later halved by a Thai appeal court.
After returning to Canada Friday, he was immediately arrested at Vancouver airport by Mounties, who used a section of the Criminal Code meant to be a preventative measure to put him before a Canadian judge to assess his release conditions.
Brian McConaghy, a former Mountie who now runs victims protection agency Ratanak International, applauded what he called quick action by authorities.
“I’m happy. The more conditions the better,” he said outside court. “I think it’s been done well, been done quickly, in terms of having conditions on a man that is fairly dangerous towards children.”