Briton jailed in Ethiopia for child sex abuse
Friday August 8, 2003
A British paedophile exposed by the Guardian for abusing orphans of the Ethiopian famine was yesterday jailed for nine years with hard labour by a court in Addis Ababa after an apparent attempt to open another centre for children in Zambia.
David Christie, 62, was found guilty of abusing boys under 15 and of procuring boys for his friends. Originally from Bournemouth, Christie was the subject of a Guardian investigation in July 1999 which revealed that he had targeted a village set up to house orphans of the famine.
Christie was sacked by the agency, Terre des Hommes Lausanne (TdH), in 1997 after admitting an "improper sexual relationship" with one of the 300 children in his care. Other children in the village also made allegations of abuse.
The first criminal bench of the high court in Addis Ababa said Christie had also arranged for five boys to be abused by two of his friends, one of them a Briton. The court declared that Christie had abused boys daily for sev eral weeks at a time. It said he lured the boys by giving them sweets and promising them an education abroad.
Christie was arrested on an international warrant in Lusaka, the Zambian capital, and was in the process of being flown back to the UK, where he was then living, when he was arrested by Ethiopian authorities when the aircraft stopped to refuel in Addis Ababa.
Officers with Scotland Yard's paedophile unit had been monitoring his movements in London. After the Guardian allegations, he changed his name by deed poll to David Allen and obtained a passport. He could not be prosecuted because his offences predated the 1997 Sex Offenders Act, which enables British courts to try UK nationals for such crimes committed abroad.
But an associate of Christie's tipped officers off that he was planning to go to Zambia with the intention of working with children again.
In Ethiopia, Christie had been the head or "father" of Jari Children's Village, an eight-hour drive from the capital. There he was responsible for the welfare of more than 300 children. His associates - some known paedophiles - would visit the village and a number of allegations were made against them.
In 1999, a Guardian investigation discovered that it was not just in Jari that children were abused. Christie had ready access to young boys in Addis Ababa, where many children are forced to beg on the streets. At least a dozen boys were living at his house in the city. A number of these boys testified to the Guardian that they had been involved in inappropriate relationships with Christie and his friends.
One said: "Other kids can learn from what happened to us. The children in Jari don't know good from bad, and they think people are good just because they are white. Any white man to come was seen as a good man."
Det Supt Peter Spindler, head of Scotland Yard's child protection group, said: "This case is an example of how British police routinely work with international colleagues. This sends a strong message to any British paedophile who chooses to go and offend in countries where they think they are out of our grasp. They are not."
Colin Tucker, a spokesman for TdH, said the organisation welcomed the verdict, as it had been trying to prevent Christie's attempts to abuse other children. "The ongoing rehabilitation of the survivors of the abuse is of paramount importance to the foundation," he said. "This verdict serves as an important milestone for the children as they rebuild their lives. It will act as a serious deterrent to those who wish to exploit vulnerable children."
Christie's trial began in October 2001, but was postponed several times because of his ill health. The three-judge tribunal "categorically rejected" his request to be allowed to serve his sentence in Britain.
His lawyer said that Christie would likely be released from prison on good behaviour in 2007, and that he would appeal against the conviction.
Hard labour sounds like fun
And all that was left was hope.