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Paedophile based his whole life around child sex abuse

Richard Huckle
Richard Huckle

Richard Huckle was "a constant groomer" who pretended to be a Christian philanthropist while in fact basing "his whole life around the sexual abuse of children", investigators said.

The depraved predator began his obscene crimes when he was just 19, and was so "conniving" he managed to get away without detection for nine years, during which time he had raped and abused dozens of children, one just six months old.

Huckle was so confident that he put together a paedophile guide on how to select victims and avoid detection, and bragged on abuse forums on the Dark Web about how one three-year-old girl was as loyal to him as a dog.

He presented an image as a respectable English teacher, targeting impoverished children, in particular in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (Ceop) head of operations Tony Cook said: "There is no doubt that the quantity and quality of the offending of this particular individual would have increased had he not been arrested. He is only 30 years of age, so we can only imagine what sort of offending he had in front of him."

National Crime Agency (NCA) investigators were tipped off about Huckle as part of an international police operation in late 2014 and "painstakingly analysed minute detail of what he was saying and the photographs he was taking" to work out that the majority of the victims were being abused in Malaysia. One was targeted in Cambodia.

In the shady paedophile forums, Huckle bragged that poorer people would want someone with his "high status" to care for their children.

He said: "Impoverished kids are definitely much, much easier to seduce than middle-class Western kids; I still plan to publish a guide on this subject."

On one occasion he was supposed to take a five-year-old child out for her birthday but instead took her to his own home to abuse her. He called it "a small price to pay if nobody else is interested in celebrating your birthday".

The NCA team received intelligence that Huckle was planning to return to the UK for Christmas in December 2014, and used a piece of legislation that allows a British suspect to be charged for crimes abroad.

He had "a wealth of evidence" on the computers, hard drives, camera and phone in his possession - more than 20,000 obscene images - and two months later was charged with an "unprecedented and exceptional" 91 counts.

Senior officer James Traynor said: "Richard Huckle groomed those children. He groomed them to a point that he was certain no matter what he did to them they would not tell their parents about the abuse they were suffering from him.

"Richard Huckle is a predatory paedophile. He based his whole life around the sexual abuse of children, around the grooming of adults in order to gain access to their children.

"Richard Huckle was so confident that he would not get caught for his actions that he produced a 60-page manual that he was planning on publishing online in order to tell other paedophiles about how not to get caught for the sexual abuse of children in a foreign country.

"As a result of the guilty pleas, Richard Huckle faces a long time behind bars, and as a result we have safeguarded many more children that he would have abused during his lifetime."

He was described as "a lone offender", although investigators also said their inquiry is "ongoing".

They believe there are more victims who suffered at his hands in south-east Asia.

Deputy head of operations Detective Superintendent Matthew Long said: "He was extremely good at grooming. He would use any opportunity that he had to influence and cajole, to manipulate people into a position that he was given access to children.

"He was doing it all the time, he was a constant groomer."

He went on: "He was one of the most committed, manipulative, conniving paedophiles we've come across. He's been so committed he's been using a variety of grooming methods, there's no point that he would stop."

There is no evidence currently that Huckle has abused children in the UK.

Mr Cook said: "We have investigated the offences we have got evidence and intelligence against. If we had evidence to suggest he committed offences in the UK we would investigate that, but I don't think we have, That's not to say he hasn't committed offences in the UK.

"The only offending that we've found - again I reiterate the fact that does not mean he has not offended here - were the offences for which he was charged."