Andrew Drummond

Preying On The Garbage Dump Children

Convicted child sexual abuser runs ‘ charity’ for rubbish dump kids in Cambodia

Food is good no matter where it comes from

The atmosphere was tense in a little hut next to a massive toxic garbage mountain, for many years the sole source of income for poverty stricken families here in the capital of Cambodia.

Inside the corrugated shack in Dhamnak Thom Village No. 1 Scots born Scott Neeson of the Cambodian Children’s Fund was negotiating with the mother of a pretty 17-yr-old girl to save her from a British child abuser.

The mother 58-yr-old Khaeng Sokun was once a teenage mum, who lost her first husband and baby twin daughters to the ‘ Killing Fields’ of the Khmer Rouge.

They were taken away in the late 70’s by a Khmer Rouge cadres.  She heard her husband was clubbed to death after telling the Khmer Rouge he could pack no more fertilizer bags for Brother No I, Pol Pot. She does not know exactly what happened to her children. Just that they never returned.

Two baby girls lost to the Khmer Rouge. Child abuser wants the third

Now she is about to give her third daughter 17-yr-old, Yang Dany,  to a convicted British child abuser for the princely sum of US$150 to help clear her family debts.

‘But we owe US$600. How else can I pay this off?’ Dany wants to help her family. He future husband is a good man. She feels sorry for him. He comes here and gives everybody food. ‘

There are signs of frustration on Scott’s face.  Bawling the mother out is not an option .  He tells the mother that Dany is a star pupil. She will go to University if she continues with her studies and all the family will benefit.  But her husband-to-be has already convinced Dany to stop going to English classes. Clearly he does not need to communicate with the bride he wants.

Dany and mother Khaeng Sokun.’How else can I pay off my debts?’

‘We will help you with your debts,’ says Scott to the mother, who wants to return to Kompong Som Province after the marriage. ‘Please give this serious thought.’

Two hours later at the Flora Bar in Phnom Penh’s Street 136 we caught up with the man who plans to share her bed.

David Fletcher on his food run at Stung Mean Chey

Sixty six year old David Fletcher, wearing an Indiana Jones fedora, had his hand inside the brassiere of a young Cambodian hostess and was happy to tell me: ‘She’s shaven you know. That’s how I like them. No pubic hair.’

My sons have disowned me. Who cares?*

‘Fletch the Letch’, as he has come to be known,  continued: ‘My two grown up sons have disowned me. They did not like the fact that my girlfriends were younger than theirs.  Who cares?  It’s their loss.  But I know lots of people are watching me so I am very careful about being seen with young girls.’

Fletcher was convicted at Norwich Crown Court  in July 1997 of the statutory rape of a 15-yr-old girl, whom he first plied with champagne and to whom he offered ?250 cash. He also admitted possessing offensive weapons, two pepper sprays and two canisters of CS gas. He was jailed for eighteen months.

Judge David Mellor said at the time: ‘You exploited a young girl with the lure of money and the disinhibitions of drink, then videoed what happened.’

Fletcher ran a series of hair salons in Cambridge and Saffron Walden.  But, after he left jail, he fled Britain. He says today: ‘Britain is much too P.C. for me.  You can’t do anything there. I’m never going back’.

To all intents and purposes Fletcher runs a charity in the Cambodian capital -The Garbage Dump Project. He has a website  in which he tells the moving story of Phnom Penh’s garbage dump kids and invites readers to send donations to his private bank account.

With the money, he says, he loads up a truck  or tuk tuk with food – ‘ US$1 can feed three children’ – and heads out to the dump with his sponsors of the day.

The Sunday Mirror signed up for his tour and gave him US$50 to feed 150 children.  At a market we stopped to buy food and he bought bread baguettes, dragon fruit and tangerines.  We estimated he had handed over the sum of about US$30.

Never having to say you’re sorry

Fletcher was not a tactful negotiator. When he thought the price was too high he would extend an index finger to the seller and move on.

David Fletcher at the Flora Bar, Phnom Penh

When we asked him what the Khmer language word was for ‘Sorry’, Fletcher who has lived in Phnom Penh for six years, initially as a bar owner himself,  said he did not know.

But we were to find out later in the bars of Phnom Penh that he did however know the Khmer for ‘no nickers’ and ‘oral sex’.

Garbage mountain at Stung Mean Chey

When we got to the garbage mountain at Stung Mean Chey on the outskirts of the capital he took a cream bun and some fruit to ‘my favourite little girl’ but she was not at home.  The girl, aged 8, we later learned had been rehoused with her family out of harm’s way by the Cambodian Children’s Fund.

With his tuk-tuk driver he dished out fruit to long queues of children and then took us to his fiancee Yang Dany’s home with a special bag of goodies for her mum.

Where can a man like my get a girl like this?

‘I’m planning to marry her when the time is right. Where can a man like me get a girl like this? I am going to get a loan to put her through University and educate her myself.

‘This town is full of N.G.O’s. There are over 3,000 different N.G.O’s here. They are a pain in the butt; always making  trouble for someone or other, so I am especially careful.

‘A couple of weeks ago I was attacked  by a foreigner with a pepper spray.  I keep a Bowie knife as protection now’.

After delivering our food and now back at our pick-up point the ‘Phnom Penh India’ restaurant on the city’s riverside Sisowath Quay, Fletcher borrowed a receipt book from the owner and wrote out an official receipt for US$50. ‘Everything’s above board.  People have accused me of pocketing the charity money.

‘It’s a fine thing you have done today for the children of the garbage dump,’ he said before heading off with the change and arranging to meet us in a bar later on to show us a ‘good time’.

Later after meeting him at the Flora  hostess bar,  he took us to the nearby ’99’ hostess bar like many bars here full of young woman available for the taking at a price.

 ‘They can charge US$25 dollars upwards for sex.’ said Fletch the letch, groping a girl, who said she was just 17, but whom  Fletcher claimed was 23.

‘But I don’t pay. I don’t buy girls drinks. I give them tips. But I get sex for free anyway.  There is a girl who visits me from the local market in the morning. She just does it to have a nice shower and a comfortable bed to sleep in.  I prefer Cambodian girls. I tried Thailand first; went there for years to Patong Beach, Phuket,  but here it’s much better. They’re more needy.  You just need to be a little careful. I know I am being watched.  The schools have complained I am taking kids out of their classes. I just reply, ‘Well you feed them properly then!’

Fletcher offered to take us to another bar. ‘I’ve got a girl in there who I can really turn on.  She gets so worked up she should pay me. She’s so small I can just lift her up and hang her on my ****. I don’t use Viagra, I buy some much better Chinese made stuff from a shop around the corner,’ he said.

But when we got there thankfully the bar was closed.

Fletcher used to run his ‘Volunteer Project’  out of his former bar called ‘Bogie and Bacall’ but his two Australian colleagues quickly left.

Rotary Clubs gave cash

Said one of them, retiree Ross Wright: ‘We decided to go our own way. He never once showed us the bank account into which donations were going. There were tens of thousands of dollars unaccounted for.  Cash was coming in from Rotary Clubs and big private donors, but we never saw any of it.  We also had complaints of him being too familiar with young girls.’

Scott Neeson, 51, founded the Cambodian Children’s Fund with the proceeds of his US$1 million a year salary in Hollywood as International President of Fox then International President for Marketing for Sony Pictures.

Former film mogul Scott Neeson now turned Cambodian ‘Braveheart’

He quit, he says, after tiring of dealing with actors, particularly one famous one who raised hell when he was not supplied with a ‘playstation’ on a long haul flight. He had, he says, an epiphany. ‘It was a rubbish life.

‘But this is a rewarding , only people like Fletcher are a continuous source of worry .There is little doubt Fletcher devotes his time here to grooming young girls. He has nothing to do with the boys.  We have had girls of 13 and 14 turning up with his charity business cards. He had told their parents he wants to adopt them, care for them. They think, because he gives out food, he is good.  But he is grooming. They cannot see the other side.

‘He also took a 14-yr-old into town without her parents permission, to go shopping.

‘The fact is that these children can be bought. It’s difficult to stop it. The British Embassy have been told about Fletcher. Many organizations have files on him, but nothing has happened.

‘If you can get this guy sent packing you are doing a service to the children here.’

The abuse of children by foreigners in Cambodia is hampered by institutionalized corruption in what has become a one party state run by strongman Hun Sen, who has in effect locked out Opposition leader Sam Rainsy on trumped up charges.

Rainsy has been forced to live abroad after being sentenced to two years in absentia for creating a disturbance with boundary signs on the Cambodian border. He has accused Hun Sen of selling off parts of Cambodia.

Police have shown they are more than willing to take pay offs to release foreigners on child sexual abuse charges and most cases are settled with cash payments to one side or other.

But Britain’s CEOP, Child Exploitation and Online Protection unit, have established a presence in the last two years and are linking progressively, they say,with Cambodian police.  A spokesman said: ‘We are aware of complaints about David Fletcher and have been in discussion with the authorities.’

When I confronted Fletcher about his conviction against the 15-yr-old at Norwich Crown Court he said: ‘Oh yes. She was just my girlfriend. They caught me. I just did it ahead of her sixteenth birthday. People will stoop very low to say bad things about me.’

“Its a wonderful thing you have done for the kids” said Fletcher

Story correction: On re-checking the tape Fletcher says he has one son and one daughter. Both grown up. The son objected to the fact that he (Fletcher) had girlfriends younger than he did.

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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