Wednesday, October 03, 2012

Christopher Paul Neil freed... sort of

Christopher Paul Neil, AKA Mr. Swirl, was released from a Thai prison for sex crimes against children and returned to Vancouver on Friday. He likely didn't get the welcome he was hoping for at the airport, however:
He was greeted on his return to Canada by members of the RCMP's Integrated Child Exploitation Unit as he stepped off a plane Friday night. [...]

He said police obtained a warrant for Neil's arrest prior to his arrival at the airport because of fear for the public's safety, even though there's no evidence of any offence being committed in Canada.

"We felt that based on the severity and the nature of the crime that Mr. Neil has committed abroad it was important that we, at the very least, bring the intention forward to our courts and see what they have to say about that," he said.

"Crown counsel has reviewed the evidence and the information that was brought forward about the activities of Mr. Neil abroad, and I suppose they felt, as we did, confident enough that some form of monitoring would be a good idea in this case so they issued an arrest warrant." [...]

Neil had a bail hearing on Saturday morning and will appear before a judge on Monday, when a judge will assess his release or impose any conditions, said Cpl. Mat Van Laer.
CBC reported on the results of that hearing today:
A little known subsection of the Criminal Code is in the spotlight this week, as a B.C. court prepares for a hearing on what, if any, conditions should be imposed on a British Columbia man who returned to Canada after serving a prison sentence for sexually abusing a boy in Thailand.

Christopher Neil, 37, is due back in a B.C. courtroom Wednesday, where a provincial court judge will consider the Crown’s request for conditions on his freedom based on Section 810.1 of the Criminal Code.

Under that provision -- used to apprehend Neil when he landed at Vancouver International Airport late Friday night -- police can take someone into custody based on their reasonable fear he or she may commit a sexual offence against someone under the age of 16.

Mounties said they invoked the little-used law because Neil had already served time for his overseas offence, but still represents a concern to the community.

Neil's lawyers are expected to apply for a publication ban on his hearing Wednesday, but CTV legal analyst Steven Skurka says the court could impose a broad range of conditions.

"He's served his sentence, he has no parole or probation restrictions on him, and yet, he could be subject to electronic monitoring, curfew, not being able to leave the province, the city or the country," Skurka told CTV's Canada AM Tuesday.

He could also be barred from having any contact with children, his access to the Internet could be restricted, and his name may be added to the National Sex Offender Registry.
Neil was arrested in 2007 after an international manhunt to find the person who appeared in photos molesting children and hiding his face behind a 'swirl,' a tale told in this BBC documentary (Part 1, 2, 3):

He had been teaching English in Korea at the time and fled to Thailand when it became clear he'd been found out. As the CBC story notes, in 2008, "he was sentenced to three years and three months in prison after pleading guilty to sexually assaulting two Thai boys, aged 13 and nine-years-old." Perhaps one reason for fleeing to Thailand was the lax prison sentences?

At any rate, in the immediate aftermath of his arrest, newspapers in Korea used his case to urge the government to "hurry and formulate measures," and it proved to be the tipping point during an already existing moral panic over foreign teachers which lead to new E-2 visa regulations, the drug testing aspect of which has now been extended to half a million foreign workers in Korea.

Oddly enough, seeing as, at the time of his arrest, he was not on an E-2 visa, had no criminal record, and was not known to do drugs or have HIV, the new measures would not have affected him. One wonders if they would even now, since he was not (as of yet) found guilty of any crime in Canada, and so would likely have a clean criminal record check.


Anonymous said...

"Christopher Paul Neil, Swirl Face, Won't Face Sex Tourism Charges"

I'm surprised Canada is not going after him for the Cambodian kids. He served his time in Thailand for the abuse to 2 of the Thai kids (of several) where they were get able to put together a case against him.

I know Cambodia has an interest in him. I wonder if the Canadians have looked at the evidence against him there. I'm guessing they may have.

Anonymous said...

There's an interesting article here from 2007 talking about Neil that suggests "Canada [is] lax in [sex] pursuing offenders abroad"

Anonymous said...

I thought you said before he wasn't on an E-2, then backtracked or not as specific? In the meantime I've read on teacher website(s) that he was on an E-2, teacher(s) swearing they worked with him but now again you say he was on an E-7. Don't worry though, if I had to choose to believe it would be in you.

Anonymous said...


Neil was on an E-7 at the time of his arrest when he was employed in Kwangju at the Kwangju Foreign School, but he had previously worked in Seoul on an E-2.

His foreign teacher colleagues from both Seoul and Kwangju were the ones who helped Interpol to identify him.

daeguowl said...

The question is, if he applied for an E2 today, would he theoretically be able to get it?

matt said...

That Star article is interesting. I wonder how many arrests there have been since it was written.

It would seem that he could face sex tourism charges in Canada, but if that doesn't happen, he technically shouldn't have a criminal record in Canada, and (so far!) Korea does not require a criminal record check from every country an E-2 applicant has ever visited, so he might actually be able to get through. One wonders if Korean immigration would have put him on a list. Though he didn't commit a crime in Korea, I'm fairly certain its within their power to do so.