Commotion erupted at the Court of Appeal on Thursday morning when 54-year-old British pedophile Michael Leach lashed out at reporters for taking his photo then dramatically withdrew his appeal against a 12-year sentence for child sex abuse before court officials persuaded him to postpone the hearing.
Mr. Leach, a former ministerial aid at the U.K.’s Department of Trade and Industry, hurled a torrent of insults and had to be restrained by police when a reporter ignored his request to stop photographing him outside the courtroom during a 20-minute delay in proceedings.
In 2011, Mr. Leach was convicted of sexually abusing three girls between the ages of 10 and 15 in Kandal province, although he missed the sentencing after collapsing in the street on his way to court.
Mr. Leach was also charged with child sex abuse in Phnom Penh in 2007, but was freed due to lack of evidence.
When his hearing commenced following his outburst on Thursday, Mr. Leach surprised the courtroom by announcing that he wished to withdraw his appeal immediately.
“Thank you for your efforts, but I don’t wish to do this anymore,” he said, still insisting that he was innocent of any crime.
“I am making no admission of guilt, I simply do not believe in the justice system in this country —nor in my own country, the U.K., either.”
When Presiding Judge Nguon Im responded by informing Mr. Leach that withdrawing his appeal meant accepting an implication of guilt that would result in his serving a full 12-year sentence, the Briton’s responses became increasingly eccentric.
“I will not accept a thing,” he said, before telling the court that he was not, in fact, fit for release.
“I would not release me. I am not well mentally and might seek revenge or possibly kill…. In fact, I ask that you increase my sentence, I want to spend the rest of my life in jail.”
Mr. Leach’s lawyer, Kin Vibol, however, requested that the hearing be postponed, which the judges granted.
“You are very excited and emotional now, so we want to give you time to decide again so we will postpone until next time,” Judge Im said.
Mr. Leach protested forcefully.
“I am insane. If I could wipe out every microbe on the Earth, I would do it, I would kill you all and exterminate all life at the touch of a button,” he said, clutching a yellowing paperback copy of Isaac Isamov’s “Exploring the Earth and the Cosmos.”
“The judge must realize that I am not right in the head,” he said, adding that he had long attended a psychologist for post-traumatic stress disorder.
Mr. Leach finally calmed down at Judge Im’s urging and conceded to his lawyer’s request to postpone the hearing.
A date for resumption of the trial has not yet been set.