BANGKOK , Thailand – Christopher Paul NEIL, a Canadian national apprehended in Thailand following INTERPOL’s unprecedented public appeal for help in identifying a man photographed sexually abusing children, has been sentenced by a Bangkok court to 3 years and 3 months in prison. He had pleaded guilty on 12 May to sexually abusing a Thai boy. This is the first of two cases for which Neil was charged.
The court found him guilty of all charges and first sentenced him to 6 years and 6 months, but reduced his sentence on account of his guilty plea. He was also ordered to pay 60,000 Thai Bahts (around 1,800 US dollars) to the family of the victim as compensation.
Neil, aged 33, was arrested by the Royal Thai Police on 19 October 2007, just 11 days after INTERPOL launched its global public appeal known as Operation Vico. The appeal was initiated after German police computer experts successfully produced clear images of Neil's face, which had been digitally swirled to disguise his image in more than 200 images of child sex abuse found on the Internet.
INTERPOL received more than 300 tips from the public in response to the appeal, with five people naming Neil – then teaching young students English in the Republic of Korea – as a potential match.
INTERPOL shared its leads with Thai police on 11 October as Neil fled Korea to Thailand in the hope of evading arrest.
The Royal Thai Police immediately followed up on the leads, identified Thai child victims, and on 18 October, issued an arrest warrant for Neil and INTERPOL published a Red Notice – an international wanted persons notice.
"Neil’s arrest came as a result of extensive coordinated work between INTERPOL and police in several countries first to identify Vico as Christopher Paul Neil, and then to bring him to justice," said INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble.
“Most importantly, the arrest and conviction of Neil, a Canadian, for the sexual abuse of children in Southeast Asia demonstrates that INTERPOL will use all available legal tools, including obtaining media and public support, to track down these predators wherever they may be found,” added Secretary General Noble.
“What Operation Vico also shows is that keeping our children safe from sexual predators in the 21st Century can best be achieved by ensuring that local, national and international police co-operate across borders and across the digital divide worldwide.”
Neil pleaded not guilty in early June to similar charges involving the victim’s brother, who was nine years old at the time of the alleged offence. The trial in that case will begin in Bangkok on 7 October. He also faces charges in Cambodia