KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — Confessed British paedophile Richard Huckle had projected an image as a “committed Christian” but had shown himself to be a nuisance while volunteering at a Christian welfare home in the Setapak suburb during his years here.
Some Malaysians who had encountered Huckle who had made the country his base from 2006 until his capture in 2014 remembered having misgivings about the 30-year-old man, The New Straits Times (NST) reported today.
One of them was a resident of Rumah Panjang Taman Tun Dr Ismail (TTDI) who recollected Huckle as a “troublemaker” in an incident at a Christian welfare home in Setapak several years before the Briton visited his ethnic Indian longhouse village in the national capital.
“I remember him because the welfare home manager was cursing at him in Tamil to me, my wife and our two friends. Huckle just stood there in front of us.
“The manager said Huckle was a troublemaker. He was volunteering there and had caused many arguments among them (the volunteers and social workers).
“When I asked why the manager was screaming and cursing at Huckle, he told me that the Englishman wanted to marry one of the Indian girls there. He had asked to marry her many times... I think she may have still been underage at that time,” said the man who was given an alias as Siva.
Siva reportedly said Huckle was later banned from working and even visiting the Setapak home.
He told NST that Huckle stayed with a family in the Taman Tun longhouse for about a year, from 2013 to 2014, but added that he kept his distance from the Englishman whom he further described as “peculiar” and suspicious.
“Why would a Christian man go to a Hindu temple every day? But it soon became the norm and I never bothered asking,” Siva was quoted saying.
He described Huckle as acting “like a sociopath,” pretending to be slow when it was clear he was not stupid.
Another TTDI longhouse resident who only wanted to be known as Deva confirmed to NST that Huckle was a regular visitor to the ethnic Indian settlement and its Hindu temple, but refuted Siva’s assertions, saying the Brit was quiet, kept to himself and did not raise suspicions among villagers.
Deva even described Huckle as a “good guy” though with a “loose screw” because he acted peculiarly slow.
“We always saw him, but that’s about it. He was a good guy. Honestly… he did not cause any trouble here. All he did was take photos of us, people in the community,” the 22-year-old told NST.
“But every time we called him over, he would quickly run away. We suppose he was afraid that we would bully him,” Deva said, while a few of his friends — aged 20 to 28 — nodded in agreement.
TTDI village head V. Sundram told NST Huckle first visited their settlement in April 2013 during the Tamil New Year and took pictures of their temple celebration.
“There was nothing suspicious about his actions. He came again the next year (2014), but was never seen again since,” the 65-year-old was quoted saying.
“During festivals, he would take photos of all of us, not just the children. We had programmes, too, and he would be the photographer, nothing more than that,” Sundram added.
Huckle’s prolific serial rape and sexual abuses of children in Malaysia and Cambodia came to light Wednesday after a UK court lifted a gag order on media reports following his guilty plea to 71 of 91 charges.
The man from a middle-class English background in Kent is scheduled to be sentenced Monday.