LONDON/KUALA LUMPUR • Confessed British child sex-abuser Richard Huckle, who preyed on poor children in an impoverished Kuala Lumpur neighbourhood, will be sentenced on Monday, British judge Peter Rook told the court yesterday.
The sentencing for the serial paedophile had been expected yesterday, but the judge said he wanted to consider mitigating factors put before him by Huckle's lawyers, notably a letter of remorse.
The paedophile took Malaysian children with him to church and regularly roamed a Kuala Lumpur neighbourhood to snap pictures of kids, those who met him said yesterday.
But several people interviewed by Agence France-Presse said they had seen no reason to suspect Huckle, 30, of the sickening pattern of child sex abuse that could see him locked up for life.
Huckle was facing in a London court 91 charges, including the rape or sexual assault of children as young as six months old, committed during his several years living in Malaysia.
He behaved like a professional photographer. When we saw his picture in the newspaper, we were shocked.
MS K. SUMATHI, who sells flower garlands at a local Hindu temple, on British child sex-abuser Richard Huckle (photo).
"I've seen him and met some of the children he brought to the church," said Mr Paul Packianathan, senior pastor of a Protestant church located in a Kuala Lumpur suburb.
But Mr Packianathan said that Huckle's church visits were infrequent and aroused "no suspicions". He condemned Huckle's actions as "despicable".
Huckle was frequently seen in a predominantly Hindu neighbourhood peopled largely by poor members of Malaysia's ethnic-Indian minority from roughly 2012 to 2014, residents of the area said.
He claimed variously to be a student, a photographer or an English teacher, and was known to offer English lessons to children, they said.
"He behaved like a professional photographer. When we saw his picture in the newspaper, we were shocked. We cannot believe he did such a thing," said Ms K. Sumathi, 45, who sells flower garlands at the local Hindu temple.
Huckle was caught only after an investigation by the British authorities who monitored his online activities. He had been prolifically uploading indecent images to paedophilia forums.
Huckle was arrested in December 2014 when he returned to Britain from Malaysia to spend Christmas.
He has pleaded guilty to 71 counts of child sex offences.
His apparent ability to escape detection in Malaysia has caused deep embarrassment for the authorities there.
The Malaysian police have said that they never received any reports about Huckle's abuses and were informed of the case by their UK counterparts only in April.
The Malaysian police yesterday announced for the first time that they had launched their own investigations.
"We have begun investigations. We will look into the places that he went to, the people that he met," deputy chief of criminal investigation in the Royal Malaysian Police Law Hong Soon told reporters.
Police officials say they have been pressing Britain for details about the case, partly so that they can find Huckle's dozens of victims and arrange aid and counselling.
One resident in the Kuala Lumpur neighbourhood, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Huckle would sometimes take jobs shooting photos at the birthday parties of local children.
After he was arrested, investigators found more than 20,000 indecent images on his computer.
He also kept a ledger of his attacks and wrote a manual called Paedophiles And Poverty: Child Lover Guide.
The revelations have sparked revulsion in Malaysia, with newspapers yesterday plastering photos of Huckle on their front pages along with angry headlines.
Leading daily The Star's banner headline read: "This monster defiled our kids."