Thai police arrest Canadian paedophile suspect

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Christopher Paul Neil. Photo taken by Thai immigration authorities on October 11, 2007.
Image: Interpol.

A Canadian man was arrested in Nakhon Ratchasima, Thailand Friday and is facing charges of sexual abuse of a child under 15 and illegal detention. He is also suspected of posting about 200 online images of child abuse on the Internet.

According to the BBC, Thai authorities are ordering Neal to stay in custody for 12 days for questioning before the official trial starts. Under Thai law he can be held for up to 84 days before trial.

Thirty-two-year old Christopher Paul Neil, from Maple Ridge, British Columbia, could face up to 20 years in jail if convicted.

Neal was working in South Korea as an English teacher. He has been working in Vietnam, South Korea, Cambodia, and Thailand since 2000. Neal was recorded on a security camera at Bangkok airport on October 11.

Thai courts have ruled that he will be charged in Thailand. For now it is up to the Canadian and Thailand authorities to discuss.

"But if something took place here, we would want to have the person held accountable here, but that is very premature and it may even be speculative at this stage," said Wally Oppal, attorney general of British Columbia (B.C.). Neal could be charged in Canada because of a law which allows paedophiles to be charged in Canada even if they didn't do the crimes in Canada.

The RCMP are investigating to see if Neal has committed any crimes in B.C., which could mean charges will also be laid in Canada.

Interpol, just last week, issued a public search for Neal. A 15-year-old, who was one of Neal's victims, alerted authorities of the man. On Thursday Thai courts issued an arrest warrant. Authorities had been able to unscramble the face of a man in the 200 online photos, which had been digitally scrambled. The unscrambled images were used to identify the suspect.

Phyakrut News Agency reported that Neil's feet were trampled on by reporters until they bled. It was also noted that the picture of the man issued by Interpol had a very hairy chest whereas the suspect arrested had a quite hairless chest, the faces also looked remarkably different raising the question as to whether the real "Mr Swirly Lollipop" has in fact been caught. Police Major General Wimon Powintara stated however that Neil is now wanted for having sex with boys and girls and that one victim identified him as the one that lured him from an Internet cafe to play video games in his apartment where he was orally raped before being given 200 Thai Baht compensation (US$6).