Pedophile Wanted in UK Arrested in Phnom Penh

A sex offender who has been wanted by British police since fleeing England in 2010 after serving three years in jail for making child pornography was arrested at his rental house in Phnom Penh on Saturday morning and is facing deportation, Cambodian police said Sunday.

Uk Heisela, chief of investigations at the Interior Ministry’s immigration department, said that Paul Edward Prestidge, 35, was arrested at 11 a.m. in Sen Sok district’s Kraing Thnong commune.

The convicted pedophile, who is being held at the immigration department, came to Cambodia in July 2014 and worked as an English and mathematics teacher, most recently at Hope International School, according to Major General Heisela.

“We arrested him based on the request from the British Embassy relating to his having sex with boys,” he said. “He is an offender who escaped from England.”

Maj. Gen. Heisela said that the British Embassy informed immigration police in September that Mr. Prestidge, who had broken the terms of his release from prison, was in Cambodia, but that police were unable to locate him until last week.

“It is a risk to Cambodian children if we let him stay in Cambodia,” he said. “Now, we are making a request letter to [Interior Minister Sar Kheng] to deport him.”

Meas Chanpiseth, a deputy prosecutor at the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said police have not found any evidence suggesting that Mr. Prestidge committed crimes against children in Cambodia.

In 2007, Mr. Prestidge was sentenced to three years in prison after he was found guilty of taking and possessing indecent photographs of 9- and 10-year-old boys in his cub scout troop while he was a scoutmaster in Plymouth, England, according to a report from the BBC.

During the trial, the Exeter Crown Court was told that he had encouraged boys to remove all of their clothes by inventing a game called “Sahara,” in which he made them pretend that they were in the desert, according to the BBC report.

His name was added to the British Sex Offenders Register for life, and he was banned from working with children or having any unsupervised contact with children, according to the report.

According to the website Crimestoppers U.K., an NGO that works with police, Mr. Prestidge remains on a police most-wanted list in Devon and Cornwall because he failed to return to the U.K. from a holiday to Spain in 2010, breaking the terms of his release.

(Additional reporting by Peter Ford)

sony@cambodiadaily.com

Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Kraing Thnong commune was in Pur Senchey district. It is in Sen Sok district.

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