A British national has reportedly admitted to charges of sexually abusing children, many of them from the poor communities in Kuala Lumpur.
According to the British news channel BBC, the accused, Richard Huckle, 30, is believed to have abused up to 200 children between 2006 and 2014.
The victims were as young as six months old, and up to 12 years old.
The BBC report today said Huckle is now undergoing sentencing hearing at the Central Criminal Court of England and Wales, United Kingdom, since yesterday. It is expected to conclude tomorrow.
Judge Peter Rook is reported to have said at an earlier hearing that he is considering life sentence Huckle because the charges amounted to “sexual offending of the utmost gravity”.
Huckle faced 91 charges in total, pertaining to 23 children mainly from Kuala Lumpur’s poor, but the freelance photographer admitted to only 71 of the charges. It reportedly took over an hour to read all of his charges at his first plea hearing.
According to the newswire service AFP, the charges included 14 counts of rape and 31 counts of sexual assault.
The BBC said Huckle first visited Malaysia during a teaching gap year when he was 18 or 19, and proceeded to ‘groom’ children while doing volunteer work.
The AFP said Huckle had set himself up as an English teacher.
He had often taken photographs and videos of the sexual abuses, and uploaded them to a paedophile’s website in a hidden portion of the Internet known, as the ‘dark web’.
When he was ultimately arrested at London Gatwick airport in December 2014, when returning to the UK from Malaysia for Christmas, investigators uncovered 20,000 indecent images on his computer, a ledger of his attacks, and a manual he authored titled ‘Paedophiles and Poverty: Child Lover Guide’.
Australian police tracked him down
The BBC said the details of Huckle’s abuses could only be reported now because the investigators had previously sought a court order to ensure that the victims were safe from other online sexual predators.
BBC also reported that the police in Europe and Australia have been aware of the paedophile site that Huckle had been using.
In particular, officers from the anti-online child exploitation unit of the Queensland police - Task Force Argos - knew that the website’s creator used an unusual greeting, which is the word ‘hiyas’.
They eventually found a fake Facebook page where a man was using the same greeting.
Based on a photograph of a vehicle on the page, they were led to a childcare worker in Adelaide, Australia, named Shannon McCoole.
McCoole was online, running the site when the police went through his door, the report said.
Upon examination of his hands, a freckle on his finger was found to match those in appearing in many of the pictures of abuse.
McCoole was given a 35-year prison sentence last year, BBC reported.
However, in an unprecedented move, Task Force Argos assumed McCoole’s identity and took over the running of the website, in a bid to track down its users.
“One user who stood out was Huckle - given the number of children he had access to and his aggressive attitude.
“Using data gleaned from the site and information Huckle had posted on social media and other open Internet sites, they identified who he was and where he lived.
“Realising he was coming back to the UK for the Christmas holidays in 2014, they tipped off Britain's National Crime Agency,” BBC reported.