London: A British serial paedophile who preyed on impoverished children in a Kuala Lumpur slum and bragged about the abuse online faces life in jail on Friday when he is expected to be sentenced.
Richard Huckle, 30, who has pleaded guilty to 71 counts of child sex offences, including rape, targeted children while posing as a volunteer working with Christian communities in the Malaysian capital.
Huckle posted pictures of the abuse of boys and girls on website True Love Zone (TLZ), with the youngest victim believed to have been around six months old.
"He`s one of the most committed, manipulative, conniving paedophiles I have come across," said Matthew Long of Britain`s National Crime Agency (NCA).
Huckle was snared by an Australian investigation on the dark web -- a hard-to-access part of the Internet often used for illegal activity.
The Old Bailey central criminal court in London heard earlier that he targeted poor victims over nine years and was writing a guide to child abuse that he intended to publish for profit.
"Impoverished kids are definitely much easier to seduce than middle-class Western kids," he said during an online chat.
He said he planned to "mould" one of his victims into a "perfect wife" so that he could get away with abusing more children.
Investigators have identified 23 victims -- 22 Malaysians and one Cambodian. Of the offences Huckle has admitted, 22 carry a discretionary life sentence.The NCA has faced criticism after it was revealed they did not visit Malaysia until 16 months after Huckle`s arrest, and Malaysian authorities are pressing Britain for more information on his crimes.
Ong Chin Lan, assistant director of a special division dealing with such crimes, said late Thursday that Malaysian police still did not know the identities of Huckle`s victims.
"We have asked for the information repeatedly and will continue to press them for more information for follow-up action," state-run news agency Bernama quoted Ong as saying.
"So far, the victims have not been identified and the NCA only informed us about the incident about one month ago."
British police arrested Huckle, from Kent in southeast England, at London Gatwick Airport in December 2014 as he returned home from Malaysia to spend Christmas with his parents.
He was carrying a heavily-encrypted computer and camera that contained over 20,0000 images of child sex abuse, many of which showed him committing offences including rape.Police also found a ledger in which he detailed the abuse of 191 victims, but officers were unable to press charges on all cases as there was no photographic evidence.
They believe the images may be contained within files still encrypted on the computer. Huckle has refused to reveal his passwords.
Huckle`s defence argued in mitigation that he had not inflicted any physical pain on his victims, but the prosecution said that "clear sounds of distress" were heard on the videos.
Other videos showed children forced to sexually abuse each other, abuse being committed as other children watched and children being urinated on.
Other victims were forced to hold up signs advertising the paedophile website, which had thousands of members.
Australian police were able to infiltrate the heavily-encrypted site after identifying its owner, male Adelaide child worker Shannon Grant McCoole, who was sentenced to 35 years in prison last year.
Website users were required to upload a regular supply of child abuse images in order to retain membership, Australia`s federal prosecution service said at the time of McCoole`s sentencing.
Police were later able to pinpoint Huckle as one of its most prolific users.
Huckle, whose child abuse is believed to have started during a gap-year trip to Cambodia aged 19, said he was based in India in order to conceal his identity as he posted videos online.
Huckle admitted to his parents that he had committed the abuse after he was arrested at Gatwick Airport, where his father was waiting to pick him up.
"His mother was both extremely upset and extremely angry. She and his father called the police and asked them to take their son away," said prosecutor Brian O`Neill.