A 57-year-old retired teacher has been jailed for life after the UK’s first trial involving the online abuse of Filipino children.
Paul O’Neil, aged 57 from Wollaton Vale, pleaded guilty to 30 charges of procuring children as young as four for sex acts, including rape, after sending £6,000 to the Philippines to satisfy his “fetishes” with child abuse, virginity and incest.
He will serve 12 years before he is eligible to apply for parole. The judge at Nottingham Crown Court, Gregory Dickinson QC, said: “It seems to me highly likely you will remain in custody for considerably longer.”
The Nottingham Post reported that O’Neill had visited the Philippines, ostensibly as a teacher for a charity. Although he had researched child sex tourism, there was no direct evidence that he had abused children in person.
James Varley, prosecuting, said O’Neill had never been in trouble before and was a “bastion of the local church, and Sunday school teacher who appears to be a wholesome, married father-of-two.
“We now know this was clearly not the case. In fact, he had a dark side to him which he kept concealed — he was obsessed with the sexual exploitation of pre-pubescent girls and enjoyed the sexual abuse and degradation of young girls.”
Mr Varley said the child abuse was organised and directed by O’Neill in collaboration with Filipino women.
In mitigation, Sean Smith said that O’Neill had shown no signs of an unhealthy interest in children before 2008 and described his offences as “horrific and disgusting”.
He said that O’Neill was like a drug addict who could not stop and had sunk into “depravity”.
Other offences admitted by O’Neill included making 3,416 indecent images of children between 2008 and 2016, and possessing a further 2,832 prohibited images when he was arrested in November last year.