Thai policeman played the keyboards at my wedding to under-aged girl, says convicted child rapist - March 23 08
From Andrew Drummond, Bangkok
Police in Thailand said today they were reconsidering a decision to grant bail for the sixth time to a convicted British child rapist, known as 'The Ghost' who was arrested last week for abusing an eight-yr-old boy.
After protests from child-watch groups Police Colonel Khanisorn Yuwawhitaya, in charge of the Women and Children's Division of Thai Police Region 2, which covers the resort of Pattaya, said he would send an order to police in Pattaya to 'put things right'.Police in the resort, infamous for its sex trade, have repeatedly released Praill, 77, from Harold Hill, Essex. He was last bailed on Wednesday for the equivalent of Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£6,500 within hours of his arrest in the shower of his home in Bongkot Villas, Pattaya.
Praill, the step-father of ex-footballer Jon Goodman, who played for Wimbledon, Crystal Palace, and Ireland, was convicted in 2001 for the rape of two under-aged girls in the resort, aged and 11 and 12 and jailed for 14 years. He was bailed pending appeal and when he lost that appeal in 2004 he appealed to the Supreme Court and was given bail again.
Prior to 2001, Praill had been arrested three times on child sex allegations.
Each time he was released by Pattaya police, after paying 'fines' to local police, according to the local newspaper 'The Pattaya Mail'.
He was arrested again in March last year with three other foreigners who allegedly used a 'home delivery service' for paedophiles in Pattaya. Young girls were taken on motorbikes to the customers apartments, police claimed.
One of the three, American Glen Allen, 61, was last month jailed for 16 years in cases involving girls or 9 and 11. But the case against Praill is no longer in the court after the prosecution offered no evidence.
(One of the 'victims' in the case was a daughter of another of Praill's maids. She was not called to testify against Praill. Police claimed he abused her upstairs while the mother did the housework downstairs. Praill admitted knowing her however 'from the day she was born')
Maurice Praill, 77, known to his child victims as 'The Ghost' because of his frightening appearance, denied yesterday ever paying bribes to local police.
'I don't need to. They never produce proper evidence against me, ' he said at his Pattaya home. 'They are targeting me. It's getting a little hot. But I could be dead before they get a conviction on the latest charge, and I am confidence I will win my appeal for child rape. I have one of the best lawyers in Bangkok. I've seen him on TV.'
'I like young people. All my girlfriends have been younger than me,' he added.
Two years after his arrival in Thailand in the late eighties, Praill married a 15-yr-old girl, the daughter of his maid, who had been in his house for two years, in a marriage blessed by Buddhist monks.'The parents asked me to marry their daughter. They wanted to secure her future. Her father was not too well. A policeman even led the band and played the organ at the wedding party,' he said yesterday, adding that the girl left him within the year to join her glue-sniffing chums.
'The latest charges are a set-up. This boy has been at my house but I sent him away giving him 50 baht. I sensed there was something wrong.
'The day I was alleged to have committed this offence my ex-wife, who remains a friend, was staying with me on the way to Borneo.
'Its members of a local orphanage who are setting me up. They have tried before and failed.'
Sudarat Sudarat of Thailand's National Child Protection Committee and Secretary General of 'The Fight Against Child Exploitation' (FACE) said she had protested Praill's release.
'Every time he is released children are in danger, ' she added.
The British taxpayer has spent hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay for courses for Thai police, court officials, and child welfare groups, to ensure paedophiles are swiftly and professionally dealt with. The courses have often been preceded by parties hosted by the British Ambassador.
The courses were introduced after several notable paedophiles being tracked by British police were either released without charge or acquitted in court. The most recent courses were run by Britain's Child Exploitation and Online Protection Centre (CEOP) which will shortly host more visits by Thai police to the U.K.
Added Sudarat Sereewat: 'We are trying to establish why Praill has been released so many times. Is it could be corruption? Is it incompetence. I would not like to say either without proof. But police have now said they would withdraw the bail.'FACE are in possession of a diary allegedly written by Praill in the early nineties, five years after his arrival in Thailand after retiring from running a video hire company in Chingford.
In the diary he describes how he paid children for sex by paying their school fees or buying them glue or simply giving them a few pounds. He describes his anger at their ingratitude when they refuse or when they do not perform to his satisfaction.
Left: A page from Praill's old diary
This page describes a frustrating night at home with two young girls who are sniffing glue but refuse him. One says ' Dont want. It hurts'. 'How much more can I take?' complains Praill. The following morning he reports a girl 'won't touch it let alone smoke it'. But he reports happily at the end he has succeeded and had the best session possible.
'And she seemed to enjoy it - at last'
Maurice Praill denies he has kept a diary.
This article was updated on March 24 2008