Why wasn't Richard Huckle arrested sooner?

Prolific paedophile evaded capture for nearly a decade as he targeted children and babies

(Image credit: National Crime Agency)

One of Britain's most prolific paedophiles was handed 22 life sentences yesterday, after admitting to the abuse of hundreds of babies and children.

Richard Huckle evaded capture for nearly a decade as he targeted impoverished children and babies in Malaysia between 2006 and 2014.

The UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) is now facing criticism that it failed to act soon enough, the Daily Mail reports.

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What did he do?

The 30-year-old from Kent posed as a Christian volunteer and teacher to win the trust of his victims and their parents, deliberately singling out children from poor backgrounds.

Using hidden encrypted forums on the "dark web", he was able to share graphic images and video of the abuse with other paedophiles around the world.

How was he caught?

Huckle came to the attention of the British authorities after a tip-off from Australian investigators in 2014, who had arrested a man running one of the paedophile websites.

"Jurisdictional issues meant [NCA agents] were powerless to act while he remained overseas," says the Daily Telegraph.

He was eventually arrested at Gatwick airport when he returned home for Christmas in 2014.

Why is the NCA facing criticism?

Malaysian police claim the NCA only informed them about the abuse a month ago and say the majority of Huckle's victims have yet to be identified.

"We have asked for the information repeatedly and will continue to press them for more information for follow-up action," said one police director, according to the local press.

Malaysian charities have also questioned why they were not told about the abuse.

"I've learned that the NCA cannot operate in another country, but I cannot understand why our police here were not tipped off to keep a watch on him," Mariza Abdulkadir, from the Protect and Save the Children Association, told the Daily Mail.

"Perhaps there was a fear he would realise he was being investigated and would go underground, but I still don't think it's strong enough to let him continue to abuse children," she added.

The NCA has defended its operation and said its officers worked hard to track Huckle down.

"Borders are no barrier," said James Traynor, from the NCA's child exploitation and online protection command. "We are determined that those who go abroad to abuse children will be held to account."

Richard Huckle: 'Britain's worst paedophile' handed 22 life sentences

06 June

One of Britain's most prolific paedophiles has been given 22 life sentences and told he will serve a minimum of 25 years after admitting to the abuse of dozens of babies and children.

Richard Huckle, 30, pleaded guilty to an unprecedented number of offences from 2006 to 2014 carried out against children aged between six months and 12 years.

The freelance photographer, who posed as a devout Christian and teacher to abuse children in Malaysia, was ordered to serve a minimum term of 25 years.

He clasped his hands in a prayer-like gesture as he was handed his sentence.

According to the Daily Mail, a woman sitting in the public gallery called out: "A thousand deaths is too good for you" as Huckle, of Ashford, Kent, was escorted from the courtroom.

Detectives identified 23 children from poor Christian communities in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur in 71 charges, although Huckle's tally of abuse, which he catalogued on a "Pedopoints ledger", was much higher, the Daily Telegraph reports.

Judge Peter Rook QC said Huckle's life revolved around his obsession, adding that had he not been arrested, it was clear that he planned to continue with the same lifestyle.

"Your offending behaviour became entrenched in your everyday life. Your life revolved around your sexual activities with young children," he said. "Your distorted beliefs in respect of children are deep-seated. Your self-delusion knows no bounds."

Paedophile Richard Huckle says he doesn't want to be a 'martyr'

03 June

Richard Huckle, dubbed "Britain's worst paedophile" by the media, has claimed the prolific child abuse he carried out was due to his "immaturity".

In a statement read out at the Old Bailey by his lawyer, Huckle said he did not want to become "a martyr to sex tourism in Malaysia" and claimed to be "truly remorseful".

The 30-year-old photographer from Ashford, Kent, has pleaded guilty to 71 offences from 2006 to 2014 against children aged between six months and 12 years. Investigators have identified 23 victims but believe the true figure could be nearer to 200.

Working as a Christian volunteer in the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur, Huckle not only abused children, but filmed and photographed them to post on the dark web.

More than 20,000 images of abuse were found on his computer, along with a 60-page guidebook he had written entitled: "Paedophiles and Poverty: Child Lover Guide."

He also detailed abuse of 191 victims in a so-called "Pedopoints" ledger and awarded himself marks for depravity.

"In one case he raped a three-year girl and used the image to raise money on a warped crowd-funding website," reports Sky News.

During the sentencing hearing, defence lawyer Philip Sapsford asked for leniency and read out the statement written by Huckle.

"I am open and eager to rehabilitate from this offending behaviour," it said. "I don't want to become a martyr to sex tourism in Malaysia. This was all my doing as a consequence of my immaturity and I'm truly remorseful."

Sapsford asked the judge to consider his client's age and quoted from a psychiatric report that said he had limited sexual experience with women and suffered depression as a teenager.

Huckle is due to be sentenced on Monday.

Richard Huckle: 'Britain's worst paedophile' faces life in prison

02 June

A prolific British paedophile who sexually abused children and babies while volunteering in south-east Asia is being sentenced at the Old Bailey.

Kent photographer Richard Huckle, 30, pleaded guilty to 71 offences, but investigators believe he is likely to have abused more than 200 victims. The scale of the offending is "unprecedented and exceptional", the National Crime Agency (NCA) said.

The abuse spanned nearly a decade, beginning after Huckle travelled to Malaysia on a gap-year teaching placement in 2005. Posing as a Christian volunteer, he targeted poverty-stricken communities and boasted about his abuse in anonymous online forums.

"Impoverished kids are definitely easier to seduce to than middle-class Western kids," he wrote in one post. Another said he had "hit the jackpot" after finding a three-year old girl "as loyal to me as my dog and nobody seemed to care". His youngest victim was six months old.

Huckle sold images of the abuse online and also produced a 60-page paedophile manual, which included advice on how to avoid getting caught.

He came to the attention of the British authorities in 2014, after a tip-off from Australian investigators who had arrested a man running a paedophile site.

NCA workers began liaising with their counterparts in Malaysia but claim "jurisdictional issues meant they were powerless to act while he remained overseas", the Daily Telegraph reports.

They eventually arrested Huckle at Gatwick Airport in December 2014, after discovering he would be returning home for Christmas. Police found his laptop, phone and camera contained tens of thousands of images of young children, with many photos showing him carrying out the abuse.

Detective Superintendent Matthew Long, who lead the investigation, told The Guardian Huckle was "one of the most committed, manipulative, conniving paedophiles" they had encountered.

Tony Cook, the head of operations at the Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre, said he had "no doubt" Huckle would have continued to abuse children had he not been caught.

"He is only 30 years of age, so we can only imagine what sort of offending he had in front of him," he said.

Sentencing is expected to last until Friday. Judge Peter Rook said he was considering multiple life sentences due to the "utmost gravity" of the offending.

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