|Christopher Paul Neil. (QMI Agency files)
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.”