A British child molester who slipped through the hands of UK police because they did not have enough evidence against him has been sentenced to prison in Cambodia.
But the one-year-jail sentence imposed on 71-year-old Reginald Blakely has outraged child protection groups in the south east Asian country, the previous haunt of notorious child sex abuser Gary Glitter.
Child victim groups said the sentence was too lenient and would do nothing to deter other abusers of children in Cambodia.
Blakely was arrested by British police, working with their Cambodian counterparts, when he returned to the UK in 2010, but he was released because there was not enough evidence to lay charges of child abuse against him.
Since then, said Cambodian police, he has been back to the country five times, staying mostly in the city of Siem Reap, where he has since gone on trial.
He took up a position as an English teacher, but child protection groups said he had ulterior motives.
Cambodian police said they had footage, captured by surveillance officers, of Blakely approaching youngsters outside schools.
He was charged with molesting five boys aged between seven and 14 and was sentenced this week to two years imprisonment.
But the court ordered him to serve only one year, the remaining 12 months being suspended.
Blakely was also ordered to pay a fine of $US5000 and pay compensation of $150 to each of his victims.
‘This sentence is far too lenient,’ said Mr Samleang Seila, Cambodia’s director for the child rights group Action Pour Les Infants – Action (Care) for Children. ‘It won’t do anything to deter other abusers of children.’
Dozens of foreigners have been jailed or deported to face trial in their home countries since Cambodia stepped up its anti-paedophile push in 2003 in an attempt to wipe out its reputation as a haven for sexual predators.