'Swirl Face' expected to plead not guilty in child sex-tourism test case

Canadian Christopher Paul Neil (R) arrives at the Bangkok Criminal Court August 15, 2008. ...

Canadian Christopher Paul Neil (R) arrives at the Bangkok Criminal Court August 15, 2008. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom

David P. Ball, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:04 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- The lawyer for Maple Ridge’s Christopher Neil — the former teacher nicknamed “Swirl Face” during an international child porn manhunt — is expected to plead not guilty to 10 charges, according to his lawyer.

Neil, 39, of Maple Ridge, B.C., appeared in a Port Coquitlam, B.C., court Monday on new charges stemming from films made in Cambodia 11 years ago, including sexual touching, invitation to sexual touching and production of child pornography.

Neil, who was was convicted in 2008 of sexually assaulting two underage boys and served five years in prison in Thailand, faces several other charges, including possession of child pornography and accessing it since his arrest.

“It's early stages, but I expect he'll be pleading not guilty,” his lawyer, Mark Thompson, told QMI Agency. “The next steps and timing will depend on if he's released or not.”

Thompson, Neil's lawyer since his return to Canada in September 2012, said it's “way too early” to discuss his defence strategy, but with few other precedents the case is set to test Canada's new overseas sex-tourism laws, which allow Canadian citizens to be charged with offences in other countries.

“There are only four other cases like this,” Thompson said. “I don't have experience in this particular charge ... I haven't done this before. It's all new to me.”

Neil was arrested in Bangkok in 2007 after a massive global manhunt over images allegedly depicting him raping children. His face was concealed by a computer-generated swirl effect, which police were able to undo and lead to his identity and arrest.


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