Christopher Paul Neil

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Christopher Paul Neil
Born (1975-02-06) February 6, 1975 (age 48)
StatusReleased in March 2017[1]
Other namesMr. Swirl, Swirl Face, Vico
Occupation(English) School teacher
Known forSexually abusing children

Christopher Paul Neil (born February 6, 1975),[2] also known as Mr. Swirl,[3] Swirl Face,[1] or Vico (nicknamed after the Interpol operation concerning him),[4] is a Canadian child molester.[5] He was the subject of a highly publicized Interpol investigation of the sexual abuse of at least 12 young boys in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand, primarily owing to the Internet release of pornographic images depicting the abuse. He was arrested by Thai police in October 2007.[6]


Early life[edit]

Neil was born in New Westminster, British Columbia, Canada, where he was raised. Christopher was later educated in Maple Ridge, British Columbia. He attended Handsworth Secondary School and graduated in 1993.[7] There, in 1998, he graduated from a Seminary in Mission, B.C. with an arts degree, but did not receive the necessary approval to enter the (Catholic) priesthood[8] due to him not being qualified. Following this, he chose to go into teaching instead.[9]

Christopher served as a chaplain at military cadet camps in Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan from 1997 to 2000, where he counselled teenagers.[8]

Working as an English teacher in Asian countries[edit]

After serving as a chaplain, Neil moved to South Korea to teach English. He remained in South Korea for several years before moving to Thailand in 2003.

In Thailand, Neil began working as an English teacher at a private school in Bangkok. He also began traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia, where he took pornographic photographs of young boys.[8]

Interpol search and capture[edit]

Neil appeared in more than 200 photographs depicting child sexual abuse, which surfaced on the Internet and led to a worldwide manhunt known as Operation Vico. Neil's face had been obscured by a digital swirl in the photographs, but German computer experts at the Federal Criminal Police Office were able to reconstruct the original picture using techniques similar to that used by Neil, but in reverse.[10]

Several of these reconstructed pictures were posted on Interpol's website and led to more than 350 people contacting the organization, five of whom identified the man as Neil. Neil was working as an English teacher at Kwangju Foreign School in the city of Gwangju,[11] South Korea, at the time but fled with a one-way ticket to Thailand once he was publicly identified. He was arrested in the Nakhon Ratchasima Province, in the Isan region of northeast Thailand, on October 19, 2007.[12] Thai police reportedly located the fugitive by means of a trace on the mobile phone of his 25-year-old Thai partner, who was himself identified in the beach town of Pattaya.[13]

On January 11, 2008, the start of his trial was set for March 10. He pleaded not guilty.[14] On March 10 it was found that Neil did not have a lawyer. One was assigned to him and the trial was adjourned to June 2.[15] He was sentenced on August 15, 2008 to 39 months in prison and a $1,780 fine. His original sentence of six years was reduced by about half because he later admitted to the crime.[16][17] On November 24, 2008, his sentence was extended by six years following his conviction for molesting a second child.[5]

Return to Canada[edit]

After five years' incarceration in Thailand, on September 29, 2012, Neil returned to Canada, whereupon he was immediately arrested at Vancouver International Airport under a Criminal Code 810.1 warrant.[18][19] On October 3, 2012, he was released from custody on strict conditions.[20] On August 2, 2013, Neil was arrested at his home for breach of recognizance. He pleaded guilty in October.[21] Child pornography was found on his laptop and his mobile phone.[22] His sentencing occurred on May 6, 2014, at which time he received a prison sentence of three months' plus three years of probation for breach of conditions, namely "possessing devices capable of accessing the internet".[23][24][25] Neil was already in custody, having been denied bail on April 10, 2014, pending a criminal trial stemming from additional child sex abuse offences he is alleged to have committed in Cambodia.[26]

In December 2015, he was sentenced to five and a half years in prison by a British Columbia court, which was later reduced to 15 months. He was released in March 2017 and is currently living in Vancouver with a court-ordered restriction on certain behaviours including "contact with minors in person or on the internet [...] [and] possessing or accessing any electronic device or from getting any other person to do so on his behalf."[1][27]

Extended search for others[edit]

Thai police expanded the hunt for potential child sex offenders by publishing photographs of 50 Western suspects identified by international authorities, many of whom are German citizens. Other nationalities include British, Australian, Italian, Finnish and American.[28] On May 6, 2008, Interpol launched Operation IDent, its second public appeal to identify an unknown child abuse suspect,[29][30] who featured in almost 100 images showing the sexual abuse of at least three boys between six and ten years old.[31] Unlike Neil's case, there had been no apparent attempt to obscure the perpetrator's face in these images.[32] After authorities received more than 250 leads,[33][34] Wayne Nelson Corliss was arrested by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in New Jersey[31] and charged with producing child pornography. He admitted to raping three boys, and was denied bail.[32]


  1. ^ a b c "Convicted 'swirl face' sex offender Christopher Neil to live in Vancouver". Vancouver Sun. March 26, 2017. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  2. ^ "NEILPassport_W500". Archived from the original on 2007-10-23. Retrieved 2007-10-18.
  3. ^ "Images of 'paedophile' released". BBC News. May 6, 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  4. ^ INTERPOL has confirmed Thai and Cambodian identification of Christopher Paul Neil as Vico, Interpol Media release, 16 October 2007
  5. ^ a b "B.C. teacher sentenced to 6 more years in Thai prison for abusing boy". 24 November 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  6. ^ "Net pedophile suspect arrested". Archived from the original on October 21, 2007.
  7. ^ Prbh (2023-06-11). "Mr. Swirl Case: Most Disturbed Person On Internet". Medium. Retrieved 2023-06-22.
  8. ^ a b c "Suspected Canadian pedophile arrested in Thailand". October 19, 2007. Archived from the original on December 9, 2007. Retrieved October 25, 2021.
  9. ^ "Alleged pedophile taught at B.C. school 6 months ago". CBC News. October 17, 2007.
  10. ^ "Interpol issues rare global appeal to help find Web pedophile". Reuters. Archived from the original on October 18, 2007.
  11. ^ Doland, Angela; Leicester, John (October 16, 2007). "Suspected pedophile left tracks on Web". USA Today. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  12. ^ "Thailand nabs Canadian pedophile suspect". Reuters. 19 October 2007. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  13. ^ "Pedophile suspect denies Thai charges". Archived from the original on December 6, 2007.
  14. ^ ""Swirly-face" pedophile suspect pleads innocent". Reuters. 2008-01-11. Retrieved 2022-06-18.
  15. ^ "'Swirl' suspect trial adjourned". BBC News. March 10, 2008. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  16. ^ "Thai court jails "swirly-face" Canadian pedophile". Archived from the original on August 23, 2008.
  17. ^ "Canadian sentenced in pedophile trial in Thailand".
  18. ^ Integrated Child Exploitation Team (2012-10-01). "RCMP in BC – Christopher NEIL arrested upon his return to Canada". Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  19. ^ "Sex offender arrested returning to Vancouver". British Columbia. 2012-09-29. Retrieved 2021-12-02.
  20. ^ "Child sex offender in B.C. released on strict conditions". CBC News. October 3, 2012. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  21. ^ "'Swirl face' pedophile to appear in Richmond court today | CTV Vancouver News". 2013-12-05. Retrieved 2014-02-10.
  22. ^ "Child predator Neil to undergo psych assessment". Richmond Review. 17 January 2014. Archived from the original on 22 February 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2014.
  23. ^ "'Swirl Face' pedophile who breached conditions gets three months, plus probation | Yahoo News". The Canadian Press. 2014-05-06. Archived from the original on 2014-05-08. Retrieved 2014-05-06.
  24. ^ "Christopher Paul Neil, convicted sex offender, jailed for 3 months". 7 May 2014. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  25. ^ "'Swirl face' pedophile handed jail time". Winnipeg Sun. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  26. ^ Burgmann, Tamsyn (2014-04-10). "B.C. judge refuses bail for convicted pedophile facing more charges". CTV News. Retrieved 2022-06-18.
  27. ^ "'Swirl face' sexual offender in Vancouver after release". BBC News. 2017-03-27. Retrieved 2022-06-18.
  28. ^ "Thai police expand hunt for suspected Western paedophiles". Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  29. ^ "Internet / Home – INTERPOL". Archived from the original on 8 May 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  30. ^ "Net ends chase". The Hindu Business Line. Retrieved 18 September 2015.[permanent dead link]
  31. ^ a b "Internet / Home – INTERPOL". Archived from the original on 4 July 2009. Retrieved 18 September 2015.
  32. ^ a b Porter, David (2008). "Best Santa ever' arrested in N.J. on child sex charges". Associated Press. Archived from the original on May 12, 2008.
  33. ^ | Wayne Corliss – Fugitive Archived May 22, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  34. ^ "Internet / Home – INTERPOL". Archived from the original on 10 May 2008. Retrieved 18 September 2015.