Convicted B.C. sex criminal arrested in Cambodia for allegations of child rape
43-year-old Andrew David Eyre of Vancouver stands accused of sex crimes against 8 victims
WARNING: This story contains disturbing details about alleged sex crimes against children.
Investigators in Canada and Cambodia are looking into the activities of a Vancouver man arrested for a number of sex crimes against Cambodian children.
The Child Protection Unit, an investigative group affiliated with Cambodia's Ministry of Interior and funded by non-profit organization Cambodian Children's Fund, says Andrew David Eyre, 43, was arrested and charged last week with aggravated rape of a child and indecent assault.
The allegations involve eight Cambodian victims age eight to 12, said the unit's director, James McCabe.
RCMP told CBC News that it is also investigating Eyre.
"The RCMP's liaison officer in Thailand and the National Child Exploitation Crime Centre are looking further into Eyre's activities in Canada and abroad," wrote Sgt. Caroline Duval in an email.
"Additionally, the liaison officer is assisting the investigative team in Cambodia."
Eyre, according to a LinkedIn page matching his description, has employment, education and volunteering connections to Burnaby.
Cpl. Alexa Hodgins with Burnaby RCMP told CBC in an email that Mounties there "had previous files with Andrew Eyre in 2018 in which he was convicted of sex-related offences."
The B.C. Prosecution Service would not comment on any past convictions, and followup questions to RCMP received no immediate response.
McCabe says investigators in Cambodia plan to cast a wide net looking into what Eyre's actions were in that country.
Allegedly visited remote village
According to McCabe, Eyre allegedly visited a remote community in Kandal province, 75 kilometres outside of the capital, Phnom Penh.
He claimed to be a medical practitioner and conducted examinations on several children. It's during these examinations the offences are alleged to have occurred.
McCabe said the welfare and condition of the children is being monitored.
The Child Protection Unit and the Cambodian Children's Fund described Eyre as an executive chef. A LinkedIn page is online matching his name, culinary work experience, time spent in Cambodia and approximate age.
The page lists Eyre as currently working in Phnom Penh after stints working in China and several restaurants, catering companies, and a golf course in B.C.
The page also lists him as volunteering with Willingdon Church in Burnaby. A pastor there told CBC he recalls Eyre from several years ago, but it was unclear to him if Eyre was a volunteer. Regardless, he had heard of no problems with him.
The LinkedIn page also lists Eyre as a volunteer culinary teacher at Burnaby Central Secondary School. B.C.'s Teacher Registry does not list anyone with his name as having held a teacher's licence, nor is there any history of discipline for anyone with his name.
The CBC has been so far unable to get a response from the Burnaby school district.
Human rights concerns
The allegations against Eyre in Cambodia have not been tested in court.
McCabe says Eyre remains in pre-trial custody. If convicted of aggravated rape of a child, he could be sentenced to seven to 15 years in prison. Indecent assault penalties range from a fine to up to three years imprisonment.
The U.S. State Department has noted "significant human rights issues" in Cambodia, including concerns about the fairness of its justice system.
McCabe says Eyre has been provided with a lawyer and will receive a fair trial, including access to consular supports.
"He'll be afforded the rights under the judicial system, which is quite a strong system," McCabe said, adding Eyre has not offered any explanation for his alleged actions.
Global Affairs Canada says it is aware of a Canadian detained in Cambodia and is gathering more information.
Sex tourism a noted problem
While Cambodia is known for incredible culture and natural beauty, it grapples with crushing poverty, and the legacies of civil war and the Khmer Rouge dictatorship and genocide.
Cambodia has long held a reputation as a destination for "sex tourism." Exploitation of minors has been recognized as a problem by multiple agencies in that country and beyond its borders, including the United Nations.
McCabe believes things have improved over the past 10 to 15 years, however.
"The efforts by the international community and the Cambodian National Police and the Cambodian government to stamp out child sex tourism has been very successful and they're to be applauded for that," he said.
McCabe adds if Eyre were to be convicted in Cambodia, he could also face prosecution in Canada upon returning to this country.