Page last updated at 23:33 GMT, Thursday, 8 May 2008 00:33 UK

Global manhunt nets abuse suspect

Wayne Nelson Corliss - undated Interpol photo
Three people in the US identified the Interpol suspect

A man suspected of sexually abusing boys in South East Asia has appeared before a US court just hours after his arrest in the state of New Jersey.

Police arrested Wayne Nelson Corliss two days after Interpol released his picture appealing for public help in identifying the suspected paedophile.

Police in Norway had found images which allegedly show him abusing at least three boys aged six to 10.

Three people in the US identified Mr Corliss to Interpol as the suspect.

The 58-year-old is an actor who played Santa Claus and painted children's faces, the manager of the apartment building where he lived told the Associated Press news agency.

He was arrested at his home in Union City, New Jersey, and charged with producing and distributing child pornography, officials said.

At his hearing on Thursday, Assistant US Attorney Lee Vartan said Mr Corliss had told the customs agents who arrested him that he had had sex with three boys over three nights in Thailand in 2002.

"He described it as 'euphoria' to the agents," Mr Vartan added.

Rare public appeal

Interpol said its unusual public appeal had led to more than 200 leads in the first 24 hours.

Image of the suspected paedophile police say is Christopher Neil
Computer technology revealed the face of another suspect known as Mr Swirl

"The arrest of the suspected child sex abuser... came about as a result of independent tips provided via the internet to Interpol's headquarters in Lyon by three individuals living in the United States," Interpol said.

"Two days ago, this man's nationality, identity and location were totally unknown," said Interpol Secretary General Ronald K Noble.

"All we had to go by were a series of graphic photographs in which the suspect was seen sexually abusing young children".

Police first became aware of the suspect two years ago from photos of him found on the computer hard-drive of a man arrested in Norway and later convicted on paedophilia-related charges, Interpol said.

The pictures showed a grey-haired white man wearing glasses with no attempt to hide his features.

The photos were checked against Interpol's vast database of child abuse images but he could not be identified, so Interpol published the pictures on their website.

It is only the second time Interpol has appealed to the public for help in hunting for a paedophile.

Last October Interpol released pictures of a suspected paedophile, dubbed Mr Swirl, who had disguised his face on the internet using a digital technique.

The image was unscrambled and soon after a 32-year-old Canadian ex-teacher, Christopher Neil, was arrested. He is due to go on trial in Thailand in June.

'Santa Claus'

Mr Corliss was described by Raven Squire, the superintendent of the apartment building where he lived, as a stable man who always paid his rent on time.

Judy Stone, a neighbour who worked with him as an entertainer, said he was "the best Santa Claus anyone has ever seen".

"I've never seen him act in a way that was creepy or predatory toward children," she added.

Customs agents found about 1,000 images of child pornography on computer hard drives in the apartment, Assistant US Attorney Lee Vartan said.

They also found several pairs of boys' underwear, including one that Mr Corliss said he had brought back from Thailand as a souvenir, the prosecutor added.

Mr Corliss was not asked to enter a plea at his hearing.

Images of 'paedophile' released
06 May 08 |  Asia-Pacific
Global hunt for child-sex suspect
16 Oct 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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