Prolific UK paedophile faces life in jail
A British paedophile who preyed on impoverished children in a Kuala Lumpur slum and posted pictures of the abuse online faces life in jail on Friday when he is sentenced.
Richard Huckle, 30, who has pleaded guilty to 71 counts of child sex offences, including rape, targeted children while posing as a volunteer working with Christian communities in the Malaysian capital
Huckle posted pictures of the abuse on website True Love Zone (TLZ), with the youngest victim believed to have been around six months old.
"He's one of the most committed, manipulative, conniving paedophiles I have come across," said Matthew Long, of Britain's National Crime Agency (NCA), adding that he was a "constant groomer".
Huckle was snared by an Australian investigation into a paedophile website on the dark web -- a hard to access part of the Internet often used for illegal activity.
The Old Bailey court in London heard earlier that he targeted poor victims during a nine-year campaign of abuse and was writing a guide to child abuse that he intended to publish for profit.
"Impoverished kids are definitely much easier to seduce than middle class Western kids," he said during an online chat.
Investigators have identified 23 victims, 22 of whom were Malaysian and one Cambodian. Of the offences Huckle has admitted, 22 carry a discretionary life sentence.
British police arrested Huckle, from Kent in southeast England, at London Gatwick Airport in December 2014 as he returned home from Malaysia to spend Christmas with his parents.
He was carrying a heavily encrypted computer and camera that contained over 20,0000 images of child sex abuse, many of which showed him committing a series of offences including rape.
- Prolific abuser -
Police also found a ledger in which he detailed the abuse of 191 victims, but officers were unable to press charges on all cases as there was no photographic evidence.
They believe the images may be contained within files still encrypted on the computer found on Huckle, who has refused to reveal the passwords.
Huckle's defence argued in mitigation that he had not inflicted any physical pain on his victims, but the prosecution said that "clear sounds of distress" were heard on the videos.
Other videos showed children forced to sexually abuse each other, abuse being committed as other children watched, children being urinated on and other victims forced to hold up signs advertising the paedophile website, which had thousands of members.
Australian police were able to infiltrate the heavily-encrypted site after identifying its owner as Adelaide child worker Shannon Grant McCoole, and were later able to pinpoint Huckle as one of its most prolific users.
Huckle, whose child abuse is believed to have started during a gap-year trip to Cambodia aged 19, said he was based in India in order to conceal his identity as he posted videos online.
The NCA has faced criticism after it was revealed they had not visited Malaysia until 16 months after his arrest.
Malaysian authorities said late Thursday they are pressing the NCA for details of the victims, which they have not yet received, and they were only informed about the case one month ago.
Huckle admitted to his parents that he had committed the abuse after he was arrested at Gatwick Airport, where his father was waiting to pick him up.
"His mother was both extremely upset and extremely angry. She and his father called the police and asked them to take their son away," said prosecutor Brian O'Neill.
© 2016 AFP