From Andrew Drummond, Bangkok, Feb 7 2009
GANGLAND IN HUA HIN (CNTD)
Pictures by Andrew Chant and Hua Hin News
A wealthy Briton who skipped bail during his high profile trial for drugs dealing has been able to live the 'high life' in Thailand due to incompetence and bungling by police and the Crown Prosecution Service.
Darren Oxley, who was described in court as 'violent' and a 'man you don't mess with', and also 'with considerable amounts of money' has been living undisturbed like a Lord in his tropical mansion in a beach resort.
Today Oxley, 42, should be in jail in Britain, for his last role as the leader of a drugs empire which pushed Ecstasy, cocaine and amphetamines in clubs in England.
But British authorities have done nothing to reign in this high profile criminal even though there is a working extradition treaty.
While supposedly on the run the British Embassy in Bangkok has happily handed him a new passport to continue his life in the sun in a palatial mansion in Hua Hin, a town known as 'The Royal Resort' 150 miles south of Bangkok.
Nine members of his gang were jailed for a total of 60 years in 2001 at Sheffield Crown Court for dealing drugs in clubs like the town's 'Republic'.
But Oxley, who stood in the dock with them, was now nowhere to be seen when it came to sentencing. He never bothered to hang around. After skipping bail he was already in Thailand where he bought a Lamborghini, Bentley and Range Rover and took a Thai wife.
A bench warrant issued by the judge became worthless, because he had already fled the coop.
Oxley has since been living the good life and laughing at British police. In Thailand he set up a building company and called 'Oxley Homes' in Hua Hin. The company has now been linked to a fire-bombing, and attempted murder.
The major victim is former US Marine Don Whiting, 65, who bought a home from Oxley and then complained about being defrauded over water bills on his property. Whiting's car was firebombed in July 2008 and then on October 24th 2008 he was gunned down at his home. Whiting is paralysed from the waist down and will never walk again.
He took took six bullets. Four pierced his lungs and exited, one was removed from his stomach, and one is still embedded in his spine. He needs 24 hours a day medical attention.
The day after the shooting, claims Donald Whitting, nicknamed 'Biff', he was due to give evidence in five cases of fraud against Oxley in the court at the provincial capital of Prachuap Khiri Khan.
After the incident Thai police said they had issued warrants for the arrest of Oxley and his wife Janpen/Napatsorn Oxley, 32, and five days later on January 29th she was arrested at she tried to cross the border to Cambodia with the equivalent of 6000 pounds in her handbag.
She was taken back to Hua Hin where she denied being involved. She was initially charged and remanded in custody, but a judge later gave her bail. Police meanwhile attempted quite successfully to keep a lid on the scandal by asking local newspapers to control their forums, which had drawn out angry comments from local foreign residents. They claimed the comments could interfere with their enquiries.
But in October 29th after intervention by Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva three people were arrested for attempted murder and they named Oxley's wife as the person who commissioned it.
Cousins Yuthawan Areesawat, 36, and Sarat Areesawat, 41 from Chumpon, South Thailand, and Eakanan Jitmahima, from Pathum Thani, Central Thailand, admitted they had attempted the murder of Whiting with a .38 after being paid 200,000 Thai baht (just 4000 pounds) by Mrs. Oxley at one of her other homes in Hua Hin. Police easily tracked down the money transfer.
The men also admitted to setting fire to Donald Whiting's car for a fee of 600 pounds.
But Janpen, who apparently had never spoken to Donald Whiting, or his partner Dolly Samson, Vice Chancellor of Stamford International University in Thailand, refused to implicate her husband.
Donald Whiting is dumbstruck. He said:
'The only person I had a row with was Darren Oxley. He was threatening me. He told me some harm could come to me. I could prove he was cheating me and was due in court the day after the shooting to testify against him.
"Sure his wife is guilty but I am sure she would never have ordered my shooting without her husband's say so. Foreign builders and estate agents have been holding expatriates to ransom in Hua Hin. Many have lost their live savings because of scams.
"How can this Briton Darren Oxley even be allowed to live in Thailand? I have written to the Crown Prosecution Service and police and get nothing from them. The British Embassy will tell me nothing."
Janpen Oxley, who entered a monastery and changed her name to Napatsorn while on bail, has not implicated her husband. It is difficult for foreigners to get bail on murder charges. The Thai legal system can be cumbersome and dysfunctional given the right circumstances. All the Thai defendants, bar the actual shooter Eakanan have got bail.
The trial could last over two years, sitting just one day a month. If Mrs. Oxley, also known as 'Sarah' is acquitted she can appeal and her bail extended. If she loses her appeal than she can appeal to the Supreme Court - the appeals process can take as long as eight years.
Said Dolly Samson, 62:
'We want Janpen to feel the full weight of the law. We want Darren Oxley brought to justice. I am concerned for Donald's health and whether he will be around to see justice is done.'Despite intervention by Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva for a speedy resolution of the case, when the Sunday Mirror attended a special hearing for Donald Whiting and Dolly to give evidence at the Bangkok South Criminal Court, as they cannot travel, the hearing had to be adjourned for three months.
Everyone was there except the accused gunman. The prison authorities had forgotten to send the assassin Eakanan to face his accusers.
So what then did the British authorities do? In statements to the local press South Yorkshire Police claimed firstly that they were seeking to extradite Oxley and then that there were problems with extradition.
When we asked the Yorkshire Police under the Freedom Of Information Act whether they had actually tried to get Oxley back to the UK they refused to say either way, explaining: '
To give a statement of the reasons why neither confirming nor denying is appropriate in this case, would itself involve the disclosure of exempt information, therefore under Section 17(4), no explanation can be given.
This should not be taken as an inference that the information you have requested, does or does not exist'.
This is civil service double-speak meaning as this is an ongoing enquiry 'we do not have to say anything'. This has left Donald Whiting puzzled as to how British justice works, let alone the Thai system.
Lawyers for those convicted believe that South Yorkshire police did a deal with Oxley.
Enquiries with the Thai authorities showed that there never ever been a request for extradition which was confirmed by the CPS, who have now destroyed Oxley's file. This is despite a suggestion by the South Yorkshire Police force to the local press that the opposite was the case.
A CPS spokesman said: 'Due to the type and age of the offence, the file on Oxley has been destroyed, in accordance with CPS policy on retention. Oxley left the country before sentencing, so should he return to the UK, he would be arrested and brought to court to be sentenced. There is no record of any steps taken to extradite Oxley. As there was no extradition started, the Thai authorities were not involved'.
Said wheelchair bound Donald Whiting:
'It's difficult to hold any respect for the British authorities. This says little for British justice or the reputation of the British police.'
Darren Oxley has strongly denied the allegations made against him. He insists he had nothing to do with the shooting of Donald Whiting.
'Donald Whiting had a case against my wife, but it was not due in court for a couple of months. He was actually suing another developer. I was never wanted in connection with the shooting of Donald Whiting. I have even been to police and they told me not to waste their time'.
(Donald Whiting admits he did in fact have issues with a Greek developer in Hua Hin)
'This is being exaggerated out of all proportion. I am being made to look like the Krays (an old London crime family of three brothers, who specialised in extortion, torture and murder, but who loved their mum, and donated to charity).
'As it stands I was not convicted in the British court and as such am still innocent. Yes, police may want to talk to me if I go back. But their case against me is weak. A lot of it is hearsay from other people in the dock.
'Further Donald Whiting has had problems with other builders and even tried to extort money from them, yet it is me who has been labelled the criminal.'
Meanwhile police in South Yorkshire are boasting 'another significant fall in quarterly crime figures'.
Legal Note: This site has been updated and corrected where necessary. Everybody has of course a right of reply. In particular I have removed some of the details from Darren Oxley's passport as I would not wish to be party to any crime or indeed for Darren Oxley to be the subject of crime. He wrote expressing his fear that he was 'wide open for anyone to use my details for anything such as fraud'.......
Janpen was later convicted but given bail to appeal.