Pattaya Daily News

27 October 2007 :: 16:10:49 pm 40220

FROM SEMINARY STUDENT TO HUNTED FUGITIVE

On Oct. 10, the net was beginning to close on Mr. Neil. He was always watching CNN, his colleagues said, and would have known that his photo had been unscrambled by German computer technicians. No one else at the school had noticed that the somewhat distorted image being shown at the top of every newscast bore some resemblance to the new English teacher from Maple Ridge. “Chris is the kind of person that could lead a double life,” said Robert Collins, who was a seminary student at the same time and lived down the hall from Mr. Neil.
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“I never thought he was being totally genuine with me, ever. Maybe he was hiding something then, or maybe that’s just the kind of person he was.”

Mr. Neil, 32, grew up in Maple Ridge, B.C., an hour’s drive from Vancouver.

His friends from Maple Ridge Secondary School describe him as the “guy next door,” a perfectly ordinary outsider who was neither popular nor unpopular, loved the music of the Pogues and struggled to come out of his shell in drama class.

But there was something in his past that may have provided a glimpse of his future, of the day he would become the world’s most wanted alleged pedophile, a seemingly ordinary English teacher pursued by police forces across the globe, and now awaiting his fate in a Thai jail.

His brother Matthew said there was a traumatic incident when Mr. Neil was a boy that led to him being called to court as a witness. He didn’t want to talk about the details, saying only that the suspect left Canada and the matter went away.

Male and female cadets would come to Mr. Neil if they were feeling homesick or needed counselling. He also taught a course in morals and ethics.

Ashley Debaie, now a college student in Halifax, was 14 years old when she went to Mr. Neil for help at Greenwood in 2000.

She sat in his office, adorned with a crucifix and a picture of the last supper, and told him she was having trouble with a superior.

“He was very friendly, very laid-back and down-to-earth. He was a really good listener,” she said.

She said he spoke to her in a soft voice, which she described as high-pitched and squeaky, and advised her to be honest with her supervisor. She said he seemed very wise, and was in no way unusual or creepy.

“No one ever complained about him,” she said. “Everyone liked him.”
href=”http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20071027.neil27/BNStory/National/home” Read full story here

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Crime News

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