Belfast Telegraph

How Canadian paedophile brainwashed an Irish teenager, and how he was caught

By Laura Larkin

One of the lead investigators in the case of a Canadian predator who flew to Ireland to have sex with a teenager he groomed online has said their initial meeting on the internet was random - but their sexual relationship may have continued had concerned neighbours not intervened.

Jashua Tremblay (34) made contact with the 13-year old Irish girl in 2013 on a website that allows people to connect randomly with other users, and went on to make two trips to Ireland where he had sex with her at different locations including hotels, a holiday home and a campsite.

In just 14 months of virtual communication he convinced the teenager, who had recently lost her mother, that they were in a legitimate relationship and would go on to marry.

This week he was jailed for four and a half years. The case has been held up as an example of effective co-operation between law enforcement across international borders.

Details of how the lengths he went to - and how he was eventually convicted - can now be revealed for the first time.

Tremblay was convicted as a result of ‘good old fashion detective work’ by Irish gardai and expert knowledge in a Canadian prosecutor’s office with a well-resourced cyber-crimes unit, prosecutor Craig Krieger told Independent.ie.

Speaking about the case for the first time since Tremblay’s sentence was handed down, Crown Prosecutor Mr Krieger outlined a detailed and comprehensive investigation which eventually left Tremblay with little option but to plead guilty.

Mr Krieger became involved in the investigation in March 2015, five months after locals in an Irish seaside town alerted gardai to inappropriate behaviour between Tremblay and his young victim during a 10-day stay at a holiday home.

“At that stage the gardai had gotten quite far, I want to give them credit because, even though they probably figured out early on that they would never see the offender again in Ireland, they nevertheless did quite a bit of old fashioned legwork to gather evidence," he said.

This evidence included a substantial paper trail including accommodation records and car rental details for Tremblay’s visits to Ireland. CCTV was also collected which showed Tremblay with his victim as they shopped together.

There was also a significant amount of correspondence between the pair on Whatsapp, including audio messages he had sent the victim.

Canada’s criminal code allows the authorities there to prosecute offenders who commit sexual crimes against children in other jurisdictions.

The investigation painted an upsetting portrait of how Tremblay preyed on the young girl.

“They met on a chat service, similar to Chat Roulette, but moved very quickly to other apps including Whatsapp,” Mr Krieger said.

“He was upfront about his age, which at the time was 30-years old, and the conversation started off very friendly, then it escalated quiet quickly,” Mr Krieger said.

The random nature of the meeting was “not unusual” Mr Krieger added, but was keen to stress that the case itself and its transatlantic nature is also not typical.

There is no reason to suspect Tremblay deliberately sought an Irish victim.

“It was just from the spinning of the wheel, bad luck,” Mr Krieger said.

Authorities were not able to recover all of the communication between the pair during their two year correspondence but what was recovered showed that Tremblay had used flattery to convince his victim of the normality of their relationship.

Her devastated dad, in his victim impact statement, described the communication as “brainwashing”.

“We were able to show the judge the detail of the kinds of things he was saying to her. It was quite explicit eventually," Mr Krieger said.

Tremblay sent naked pictures of himself, along with explicit audio messages - disturbing details which were recalled during court proceedings.

Tremblay travelled to Ireland at considerable expense on each occasion but so-called ‘sex tourism’ is not unusual and paedophiles will often show disregard to barriers such as journey distance, Mr Krieger said.

“Many of these predators are so committed to fulfilling their twisted fantasies they will go to extraordinary efforts,” Mr Krieger said.

“It doesn’t matter what kind of quiet, peaceful, rural areas one is in as long as one has access to electricity and an internet signal, these predators are committed.

“One of the things that I emphasised to the sentencing judge was that he was willing to cross seven times zones and deal with jetlag for only a seven-night visit and a 10-night visit… most people would be reluctant to go on that trip for only seven nights.

“That’s another reflection of how fixated this guy was on satisfying his own pleasures and disregarding the effect on the victim,” he added.

This was Tremblay’s first conviction for crimes against children.

In 2013 he was convicted of assaulting his now ex-wife but was given a “conditional discharge” and probation. His initial visit to Ireland came in his first week of probation.

“His first flight to Ireland was less than a week after he was in court for that assault,” Mr Krieger he said.

A psychologist’s report found that Tremblay does not display a preference for teens or pre-teens but would he have continued to offend or preyed on another victim?

“I’m reluctant to make that kind of prediction but… the only reason this ‘relationship’ ended was because he was caught, because of the vigilance of the neighbours. He was still fully engaged in this ‘relationship’ at that time,” Mr Krieger said.

Irish Independent

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