Pedophile case of B.C. man started then postponed until June

Chaiwat Subprasom/reuters


A prisoner plays with Canadian Christopher Paul Neil, right, as he waits inside a detention cell of the Bangkok Criminal Court yesterday.

Maple Ridge pedophile suspect Christopher Paul Neil went on trial in Thailand yesterday, more than four months after he was arrested in a global manhunt triggered by "swirly face" images of abuse found on the Internet.

Neil, his wrists and ankles shackled as he appeared in the Bangkok Criminal Court, pleaded not guilty to four charges of molesting and distributing pornographic images of two Thai boys.

If guilty, the 32-year-old teacher could spend up to 20 years in jail.

"I just hope there is justice in Thailand," Neil, clean-shaven and wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, said before entering the courtroom.

Neil was caught after German police unravelled a digitally scrambled face from images of abuse found on the Internet, prompting Interpol to issue a unique worldwide public appeal.

The court adjourned the trial to June 2, the earliest date when judges, prosecutor and a court-appointed defence lawyer were available, said Neil’s lawyer Ranachai Chumthong told reporters.

Chumthong said his client would ask for bail.

In October, 11 days after the appeal, Neil was caught in northeastern Thailand, due to a trace on the mobile phone of his 25-year-old transvestite boyfriend.

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German investigators reconstructed the altered Internet photo, left, resulting in a worldwide manhunt that led to Neil’s arrest in October.

The transvestite boyfriend, the only friend who visits Neil regularly in jail and showed up in court, told reporters she did not believe the "friendly and fun guy" was a pedophile.

"He never did anything to my nieces or nephews when I took him to see my family," said the partner, who identified herself as "Ohm."

"He was a romantic man taking me to places like islands and beaches," she added. "I believe he did not do it. I am not seeing anyone and I will wait for him until he is free."