Sunday 25 September 2016

Paedophile boasted of preying on 'poorer kids'

Martin Evans

Published 02/06/2016 | 02:30

Richard Huckle: guilty plea (Picture: PA)
Richard Huckle: guilty plea (Picture: PA)

One of Britain's worst-ever paedophiles is facing life in jail after pleading guilty to raping and sexually abusing dozens of children in Southeast Asia for almost a decade.

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Former grammar schoolboy Richard Huckle (30), from Ashford, Kent, targeted poverty-stricken communities in Malaysia and Cambodia, and - after winning the trust of locals - systematically abused boys and girls as young as six months old.

While he admits raping and molesting 23 youngsters, many more are thought to have fallen prey to him between 2006 and December 2014, when he was finally arrested as he returned to Britain for a Christmas holiday.

At an earlier hearing, Huckle pleaded guilty to 71 offences, 22 of which carry a maximum life sentence. Investigators from Britain's National Crime Agency said the scale of the offending was "unprecedented and exceptional".

Huckle appeared at the Old Bailey yesterday for a sentencing hearing that is expected to last three days.

Huckle, who worked in a mobile phone factory and posed as a committed Christian - attending churches in north London and Ashford - first went to Malaysia in 2005 on a gap-year teaching placement.

The following year, he visited Cambodia. While staying with a local family, he took indecent images of their child, who was aged around three at the time.

He then began to visit Malaysia regularly, posing as a teacher, photographer and philanthropist in order to ingratiate himself with a local Christian community, before raping and abusing their children.

Huckle's favourite method was to target vulnerable children in poverty-stricken communities, even boasting of his exploits to other paedophiles online.

In one posting, he wrote: "Impoverished kids are definitely easier to seduce than middle-class Western kids."

He used sick sites on the dark web to sell images of his abuse to other child molesters, accepting payment in Bitcoins.

Huckle's victims included boys, girls, toddlers, pre-teens and even babies, including one aged just six months old.

While his abuse lasted almost a decade, he did not come to the attention of the authorities in Britain until the middle of 2014, when the NCA received a tip from Australia about his postings on the dark web.

They then discovered he was planning to return to Britain for Christmas and he was arrested on December 19, 2014 when he landed at Gatwick Airport.

When detectives investigated his laptop, camera and phone they discovered more than 20,000 indecent images of young children, many of them featuring Huckle participating in abuse.

Irish Independent

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