Christopher Neil, 37, was arrested upon his return to Canada after spending five years in a Thai prison for sexually assaulting a young boy.
After Neil's plane touched down at Vancouver International Airport on Friday, he was taken into custody by members of the RCMP's Child Exploitation Unit and held in a Richmond B.C. jail. At a bail hearing on Saturday, he was remanded in custody and will appear before a judge today.
Neil had just finished spending five years in a Thai jail after he was convicted of a sexual offence involving a young boy. There are no allegations he committed any crimes in Canada although he could be charged under Canada's sex tourism laws. Canadian law makes it an offence for a Canadian citizen or resident to commit a sexual crime against a child anywhere in the world. But RCMP Cpl. Mat Van Laer is quoted in the Vancouver Sun as saying Neil will not be charged. Van Laer said, "It's a little bit like the commonly known double-jeopardy issue."
Neil was taken into custody pursuant to section 810.1 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Under that section anyone who fears, on reasonable grounds, that a person may commit enumerated offences against persons under the age of 16 years can lay an information before a provincial court judge. The judge may then require the person named in the information to appear.
If the provincial court judge is satisfied there are reasonable grounds for the fear, the judge can order the person to enter into a recognizance for a period of up to 12 months. Conditions that can be imposed in the recognizance include having no contact with children, staying away from places where minors congregate, living in a certain area, a requirement to take treatment, and to refrain from the consumption of alcohol and/or drugs.
In seeking the warrant for Neil's arrest, Van Laer was quoted in The Province as saying, "We felt based on the severity and nature of the crime that Mr. Neil has committed abroad it was important that we, at the very least, bring the intention forward to our courts and see what they have to say about that."
Back in 2007, CTV News reported Neil was arrested in Nakhon Ratchasima, approximately 250 km from Bangkok, on Oct. 19 of that year. Pictures were found on the Internet of Neil engaging in sexual acts with children. Although his face had been "swirled out," German police managed to eliminate the swirls.
Neil was caught on security cameras entering Thailand and police were able to track him down after he used a computer in a "sex tourism hot spot."
If conditions are imposed upon him by a provincial court judge and he agrees to those conditions, it is expected he will be released from custody today. If he refuses to agree to any conditions imposed, he could remain in jail for up to a year.