Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

‘Swirl-Face’ Pedophile Out of Thai Prison, Arrested in Canada

Christopher Neil. Photo: Interpol.

In 2007, Interpol released a photograph of Christopher Neil, which it had carefully unswirled to reveal his face, which Neil had disguised using a not-so clever photo editing tactic to disguise his identity in images of himself abusing kids. Neil was teaching English in South Korea when he became the prime suspect in the sexual abuse of at least 12 boys in Southeast Asia. He booked a one-way ticket to Thailand once Interpol, armed with over 200 photographs allegedly depicting Neil abusing the boys, began a worldwide manhunt for him called Operation Vico. Neil, who studied to become a priest in his native Canada, was captured by Thai police in October, 2007, and sentenced to five years in prison.

Now Neil, 37, is out of prison and back in British Columbia, where he was promptly arrested upon his homecoming. However, authorities say he won’t be charged with the crimes he committed abroad.  ”It’s a little bit like this commonly known double-jeopardy issue,” said Cpl. Mat Van Laer of the RCMP’s Integrated Child Exploitation Unit in an interview with the National Post, ”We’re not going to be convicting someone for a similar crime that [they’ve] been convicted of before, elsewhere. He spent a significant amount of time in a Thailand prison for the crime that he’s committed. That’s why we’re not engaging a sex tourism investigation.”

A warrant for Neil’s arrest was obtained out of concern public safety. There is no evidence that he committed crimes in Canada. Neil is currently being held at a jail in Richmond, B.C., pending a hearing which will determine the conditions of his release.

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