The Maple Ridge man who spent five years in prison for sexually assaulting children in Thailand, pled guilty Tuesday to breaching his recognizance in Richmond provincial court.
Christopher Paul Neil, 38, came to be known as Mr. Swirl following an INTERPOL investigation launched in 2007.
He was featured in a series of some 200 photographs in which he was shown sexually abusing young children. Neil attempted to obscure his face in the photos by digitally swirling them, however computer experts managed to reverse the process and reproduce the original, which led to his eventual identification.
The search for Neil involved the first-ever global appeal by INTERPOL—the world’s largest international policing agency—for help.
According to a 2007 press release from INTERPOL, nearly 400 people around the world responded to the appeal, with five different sources naming Neil as a potential match.
INTERPOL said Neil fled his home in South Korea and was last seen arriving at an airport in Thailand, where he was eventually arrested by the Royal Thai Police.
He was sentenced to more than six years in prison, but received a reduced sentence due to his guilty plea.
In September of 2012, Neil was arrested at Vancouver International Airport following his return from Thailand. A warrant for Neil’s arrest was obtained under section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada, alleging his actions cause fear of sexual offences to persons under the age of 16.
He was released on a series of conditions, including that he not have access to the Internet by computer or phone.
Neil pled guilty to possessing a computer capable of connecting to the Internet on Aug. 1, 2013 at or near the city of Vancouver, which is a breach of one of his recognizance conditions.
Neil is next scheduled to appear in Richmond provincial court on Dec. 5 at 1:30 p.m. for a pre-sentencing report. At that time, both the Crown and defence will make arguments about an appropriate sentence before Judge Patrick Chen.
Neil’s lawyer, Mark Thompson, noted that police investigators found no evidence that Neil had visited inappropriate websites.
Of the roughly 10 websites he visited, two or three were job-seeking sites, another one or two were e-mail sites, with three or four being current-affair or popular culture sites.
Thompson said his client would presumably be sitting in jail if evidence was found that he’d viewed inappropriate pornography.
According to Thompson, the Crown will be requesting that Neil receive a jail sentence.
Neil 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.
He attended the Seminary of Christ the King in Mission from 1995 to 1999, and received a B.C. independent teaching certificate in 2000.
—with files from Black Press