'I will die in Thai jail' says man known to children as 'The Ghost'
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From Andrew Drummond, Bangkok
A British pensioner known to street children as 'The Ghost' was
today jailed for 14 years on two cases of child rape, after a history of
child abuse complaints dating back 18 years
Maurice Praill, 78, a former Catholic lay preacher and video shop owner,
was jailed for the rape of two under-aged girls, by the Thai Supreme
Judge Charoenchai Assawapirya-a-nan confirmed a sentence imposed more than eight years ago.
He said there was no way the child victims could have lied because they
gave so much detailed evidence including how Praill cut up his Viagra
tablets and his use of KY jelly.
Praill, from Harold Hill, Essex, was led off to prison in the Thai
provincial capital of Chonburi. 'Paedophile I don't use that word,' he
said. 'I pay to feel'
The girls were paid, he insisted.
He said he was stunned at the verdict and insisted that the elder of the two victims, aged 14, wanted to marry him afterwards.
'I expect I will die in prison if I do not get a pardon.'
Praill had been repeatedly arrested in Thailand for child sex offences,
and released on bail, by the police and courts, since he sold his
business in England and retired in the resort of Pattaya, 100 miles
east of Bangkok in 1990.
He insisted before being led away in a blue prison bus: 'I just like
helping young people, sex or not, never mind, it was not the main
For the first few arrests in the 90s, local newspapers reported, he just
'paid fines 'at the local police station, another way of saying he paid
off the police and victims.
But then Praill, the stepfather of former Irish International and
Crystal Palace footballer Jon Goodman, was sentenced to 14 years in
December 2001 on the rape charges of two girls aged 13 and 14.
He had been able to stay free by getting bail while petitioning the
Appeal Court, which confirmed his sentence, then he went the country's
Supreme Court, a total eight year process.
Meanwhile Praill was arrested again in 2007 for the rape of two girls
aged 11 and 9 and again given bail. That case has not gone to trial.
Then in March last year he was arrested in Pattaya for abusing an
eight-year-old boy, and bailed again for the equivalent of Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£6000. That
case too awaits trial.
Praill, who ran a video hire business in Chingford, Essex , called
Phoenix Entertainment, was nickname Phi or 'The Ghost' because of his
frightening appearance, said Sudarat Sereewat, Director of the FACE
(Fight Against Child Exploitation) Foundation, and a member of
Thailand's National Child Protection Committee.
But local expatriates called him 'Davros' a fictitious villain, and
creator of the Daleks, in the BBC TV children's sci-fi series
When he first arrived in Thailand Praill kept a diary, now with the FACE
Foundation, which detailed his attempts to buy up schoolchildren as his
But far for being their benevolent benefactor he wrote how he paid sums
of just Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£2 and Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£3 for what he referred to as 'my conjugal rights' and
baulked when they asked for more.
He also complained in his diary how British government were taxing his pension.
In February 1992 he was trying to lure a girl 12-yr-old called 'Ann' to
his rented house but she left demanding money for her school. 'She does
not want to provide me with even minimal conjugal rites,' he wrote
He fortified himself with the sex drug Viagra and Vitamin C capsules and
trawled three locations in Pattaya, the Royal Garden Centre the Siren
Bar and the 'Made in Thailand' market where he knew young girls hung out
and found another 12-yr-old called Lek .
He wrote how he provided 'lacquer' for Lek and her friends , who sniffed
glue in his front room, and of his desire to conquer her. But each
time he tried she complained 'I don't want to' or 'It hurts'.
'She makes me horny. How long can I take this?' he asked his diary.
Then on Wednesday May 6th 1992 he announced in triumph that his grooming
had been successful: 'About 10 p.m. I have the best session ever. She
seems to enjoy it.'
Praill went on to marry the girl in a Buddhist ceremony after she became
15 and he had paid the parents a dowry of Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£1000. Monks blessed and
Praill later boasted: 'A policeman played the organ at the wedding
He had employed the girl's parents as his household staff. But there
may have been another motive for the marriage. In his diary he wrote
how Lek knew a 'virgin' working in a local tropical garden and elephant t
show tourist attraction, whom she could bring to the house.
His marriage lasted only three months before his young bride walked out to be with friends her own age.
FACE Director Sudarat Sereewat said: 'The Supreme Court decision is good
news for children in Thailand and for those fighting to suppress child
'Maurice Praill, I feel, should never have been given bail to continue
with his abuses and interfere with witnesses and had already complained
to the Regional Police. It was a difficult case because Praill would
pay the families. Children are now safe from him.'
Abusers in Thailand have easily been able to play the system in the
past. Police often negotiate compensation payments for the victims and
for their own time. Parents do not want their children to go to court
and would much prefer monetary compensation.