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Convicted pedophile's computer contains encrypted files with suggestive names

Christopher Paul Neil. - INTERPOL
Christopher Paul Neil.
— image credit: INTERPOL

Christopher Paul Neil may have done more than just committed technical violations of his bail by possessing electronic devices capable of connecting to the Internet.

According to a new police analysis of his cellular phone, e-book reader and laptop computer, Neil may have been viewing explicit images and videos of children engaged in sex.

"This report changes things," Richmond Crown counsel Gerri-Lyn Nelson said in Richmond provincial court on Wednesday morning as she made arguments before Judge Patrick Chen.

Nelson is requesting a psychiatric component be added to the pre-sentence report for Neil, who has already pled guilty to breaching his recognizance.

Nelson said that Neil has never before faced criminal charges in Canada, and that prior to being sentenced, the court needs to know about his entire background, including potentially mitigating and aggravating circumstances.

Neil pled guilty in October to breaching his recognizance last August following an investigation by the Vancouver Police Department.

He was first arrested in Canada in September 2012 at Vancouver International Airport following his return from Thailand.

Neil, 38, who came to be known as Mr. Swirl following an INTERPOL investigation launched in 2007, was sentenced to more than six years in prison in Thailand for having sex with young children.

He was featured in a series of photographs which showed him sexually abusing young children.

Neil attempted to obscure his face in the photos by digitally swirling them, but computer experts found a way to reverse the process, prompting the first-ever global appeal by INTERPOL—the world's largest international policing agency—for help.

Upon his release from a Thai prison, Neil was returned to Canada, and he was arrested under section 810 of the Criminal Code of Canada, alleging his actions cause fear of sexual offences to persons under the age of 16.

But he was released on a series of conditions, including that he not have Internet access.

Vancouver Police then launched an investigation into Neil after receiving information he was in possession of electronics capable of Internet access.

He was arrested last August.

At the time, Neil's lawyer Mark Thompson noted that police investigators found no evidence that Neil had visited inappropriate websites on the devices.

But that all changed Wednesday morning.

Nelson revealed that a more comprehensive technical examination of Neil's laptop indicated he had installed specialized encryption software, and created hidden folders that were password protected. The software was robust enough that the police investigator believed other files could still be hidden.

There were several file names that were found, a half a dozen of which carried names suggestive of child pornography.

There were other files that contained images of young boys having sex.

On Neil's cellular phone, the report indicated three images of young females, between the ages of 10 and 15, were found, Nelson said.

Nelson, who continued her arguments Wednesday afternoon, said more is now known about the potential risk that Neil poses to the greater community.

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