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Saturday, March 12, 2011

Paedophile who ran Cambodian Orphanage jailed for abusing children

By James McCarthy, Western Mail

A PAEDOPHILE in charge of an orphanage has been jailed in Cambodia for abusing the children he was looking after.

Nicholas Patrick Griffin was arrested last October after leaving the UK in 2006 and setting up the Cambodia Orphan Fund in Siem Reap a year later.

Griffin, 53, from Llangollen, has now been sentenced to two years, one suspended, for offences against children.

The Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) said officers worked with the Cambodian National Police (CNP) to bring Griffin and another man Matthew Harland, 38, to justice.

Peter Davies, lead police officer at CEOP, said: "Two convictions in two days shows that like never before this crime will not be tolerated, no matter where in the world you think you can go to escape capture.

"Any offender who thinks they can come to such wonderful places as Cambodia and target young, vulnerable children for sexual gratification should think again.

"These are major convictions and show the severity in which we all view this crime.

"I am here at the moment seeing at first hand the work we have been doing building an International Child Protection Network all dedicated to forming partnerships, sharing expertise and working collaboratively to bring such offenders to justice.

"That work continues at pace and underpins the successes we see today.

"Our message is clear the world is smaller for offenders who think they can hide in order to abuse children.

"You will not go off our radar."

Griffin was arrested in a dawn raid last year that saw dozens of officers rescue as many as 100 youngsters. They were moved to a safe house.

He had been under investigation for more than two years following suspicions surrounding the fortress like orphanage, which housed youngsters up to the age of 18.

Griffin ran several centres for deprived and vulnerable children in one of south-east Asias poorest countries.

In a statement on the Cambodia Orphan Funds website posted during the investigation Lidia Linde, of the fund, said she wanted to guarantee that this nightmare would never happen again.

She said she was working to close down the orphanage and open a new body called Together for Cambodia.

Sun Bun Thorng, of Siem Reaps anti-human trafficking department, claimed Griffin faced several charges of child molestation in 2008. These were dropped due to lack of evidence.

CEOP said Harland will spend seven years in prison, after buying sex from two young girls.

He fled to the Asian country in 2005 after jumping bail in Hampshire on charges of possession of child abuse images.

In May last year, CEOP received intelligence from childrens organisation Action Pour Les Enfants saying Harland had surfaced in Cambodia.

He was arrested weeks later with reports saying he was living in a rented house with two young girls. CEOP then deployed officers to the country following a request for assistance from the CNP. He was arrested on May 20.

Cambodia is engaged in a major drive to net foreign paedophiles.

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