The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General in British Columbia, Canada has issued a warning to the public after prominent convicted pedophile Christopher Neil, 42, also known as Swirl Face, was released from prison. According to CTV News, Neil is now living in Vancouver. The warning described him as a high-risk sex offender and listed some of the 18 conditions he was released under.
According to the Toronto Sun, Neil was the subject of an international investigation since 2004, when German police became aware of over 200 images of a Caucasian man sexually abusing young boys. Police and the media nicknamed him “Swirl Face” due to the effect used to obscure his image in the photos. At the time of the investigation, Neil had held a teaching certificate from the B.C. Superintendent of Independent Schools for three years.
In October 2007, an Interpol specialist succeeded in reconstructing Neil’s face from the obscured images, and the hunt was on. The images were released to the public, and a family member identified him. He was found and arrested in Thailand and was tried there on four unrelated charges of molesting and distributing pornographic images of two Thai boys, aged 9 and 13. In 2008, he pled guilty and was put in jail.
Five years later, he was pardoned and released. In spite of his pardon, he was promptly deported and arrested by Canadian police on his return to Vancouver. He agreed to court-ordered conditions for 18 months of his release, including surrendering his passport, staying away from children, and staying completely off the internet. In 2013, he was again arrested for breaching those conditions.
In March 2014, he was charged by the Canadian authorities with similar offenses, this time in relation to two Cambodian boys, and once again including production and distribution of child pornography; in December 2015, Neil pled guilty to five of the charges. In July 2016, he was sentenced to five-and-a-half years in jail, but the sentence was reduced to 15 months for time already served while awaiting trial and sentencing. It was one of the only cases ever to invoke Canada’s sex tourism laws.
That brings us to today, March 26, 2017 – when Neil is released to once again live in Vancouver.
Cindy Rose, a spokesperson for B.C. Corrections, wrote that “Public safety is B.C. Corrections’ top priority. To this end, we are issuing a public notification about Christopher Neil.”
“Privacy laws prevent us from providing details beyond those included in the public notification. However, we want the public to be aware of this individual’s presence in the community and to contact authorities if they observe Mr. Neil engaging in any activity that could be considered a violation of his court order. To be clear, any breach of conditions can result in an offender’s return to custody.”
Neil’s release conditions include:
- No contact directly or indirectly with any person under the age of 16.
- Not to engage in any activity that involves contact with persons under the age of 16 years, including via a computer.
- No loitering on the property or sidewalk immediately adjacent to any park, playground, school ground, swimming area, daycare, community center, arcade, library or residence where people under the age of 16 can be expected to be present.
- Not to direct any person to possess, use or access any electronic device or computer system on his behalf.
- Not to own a computer or cell phone
Thirteen additional conditions were not listed in the alert, but anyone who finds Neil violating any of these conditions is asked to contact police.
Vancouver Police Constable Jason Doucette directed all questions regarding Neil’s release to the Parole Board, but added that “The VPD will continue to work closely with Corrections Canada to monitor offenders being released into Vancouver.”
It is currently unknown why, if everyone in authority considers him a danger to the public, Neil was granted parole. Regardless, the fact remains that he is now free and living in Vancouver.
[Featured Image by British Columbia Corrections Department]