A news item that caught my eye yesterday was about UK citizen Richard Huckle, who was tried in the UK and sentenced to a minimum of 23 years for a string of paedophile offences committed in Malaysia. The BBC link is http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-36458472
The BBC page links to other articles about Mr Huckle, that I have not yet read, so I am simply posting my thoughts on that single article. I am also assuming the BBC has got its facts right.
Most of the media stories re Madeleine McCann and paedophiles are of the sensationalist theme ‘known paedo was in the vicinity when Madeleine disappeared’. Huckle’s MO included deliberately choosing Malaysia, where he thought he could evade detection. And he targeted and befriended children from mainly poor communities. So there is no evidence of his direct involvement in the disappearance in the Algarve.
His known offences started in 2006, when he was aged around 20. His age is important. He appears to be up to date on technical knowledge, which may set him apart from paedophiles who are older. And if his offences were committed outside the UK from that age on, he would not have appeared on the UK national DNA database.
Huckle admitted 71 charges, and may have abused up to 200 children. His victims ranged from 6 months to 12 years. The article does not state whether this covered both boys and girls, but a direct quote from Huckle makes it clear that he was definitely into 3-year-old girls.
He had 20,000 photographs and videos of his abuse, shared with paedophiles on a site hidden in the Dark Net.
He was arrested in Dec 2014 on a return to the UK, after he was tracked down by the NCA’s CEOP (child exploitation and protection). He had been identified by Australian police, who also passed the details of 17 other UK men using the same site on the Dark Web. The BBC article contains further information about these men.
Huckle was in the process of writing a manual for paedophiles at the time of his arrest, and had managed to produce 60 pages.
The article has a link to how Huckle was detected, which may clarify some of the following points, but here are some of my initial musings.
CEOP does not appear to have had the capability in 2014 to detect paedophile sites on the Dark Web. That is based on the 18 UK men identified by Australian police, not CEOP, and by the sheer scale of Huckle’s on-line activity.
There must have been some contact outside of the Dark Web for these 18 to know about and gain access to the site. How does a paedophile learn about such a site? Is there some entry test a paedophile must pass before being admitted? How does the site operator prevent police officers who are hunting paedophiles from gaining entry?
Does CEOP have the capability to compare the 20,000 photographs/videos against missing children or against those who may be being abused? CEOP requested that people in the area around the time Madeleine disappeared should send them photographs, but the aim was to detect known (adult) offenders, not children.
The paedophile manual Huckle was writing was presumably of interest to authorities in at least Australia, Malaysia and the UK. If it covered Dark Web entry and how the external contact method worked, that information would be of interest worldwide.