Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

This is an emaciated Richard Hewitt before being rescued from a Pattaya police cell where he lay naked and cuffed to the cell bars in what witnesses described as a state near to death.

And this is Richard Hewitt today.

He has made an incredible recovery after treatment at a psychiatric hospital in Bangkok. And remarkably it was a private British citizen who came to his aid after seeing  pictures of Hewitt up on this website.

The British Embassy had seemingly written him off as either a 'feckless' Brit or perhaps as one Embassy employee apparently described him, unofficially and not without cause - 'a nutter'.

But now his faculties have returned and Hewitt describes himself as 'The luckiest man in the world'

And from a world in which he thought he had no cash he has emerged to a world where he is rich well beyond the imagination of his paranoiac alter ego with many millions of Thai baht in his bank account.

He puts his good fortune down to his saviour Tracy Cosgrove, of the charity Melissa Cosgrove Children's Foundation,  who rushed down to Pattaya Police station, had him dressed and fed and persuaded police to send him to a psychiatric hospital.

He is also deeply grateful to his landlord Bunchai Thaiurungrattana at his apartment in Pattaya 3rd Road, Soi 16, who safeguarded his belongings, cash and bank books, until he made his recovery.

For Richard Hewitt is not a Pattaya Brit who has squandered all his cash on booze, women, and drugs... Well, at least not yet.

He is in fact wealthy in his own right.  A computer engineer, and graduate from the University of Sheffield, he has in fact lived in Thailand on and off for 12 years and says he has visited 'and stayed in' 56 provinces.

He was an English language teacher for Berlitz in Bangkok until four years ago when he quit after his father died and he received a large inheritance.

And it is that inheritance which may have been his undoing.  That and perhaps moving to Pattaya with little sense of self control.

'I decided someone would have to make me a pretty good offer if I was ever going to work again,' he said, talking about his inheritance. 'That was my downfall'.

Instead  he decided to make most of his life in a city once described by Britain's 'Observer' as a modern day Sodom and Gomorrah.

Hewitt, 47, from Brownhills, Birmingham, drank, took drugs,  and frequented the city's sex bars.

His last arrival date from Britain was in the third week of August last year. He resumed his normal lifestyle but insists he quit drugs, and drink by early October.

Nevertheless the damage appeared to have been done. Something somewhere cracked, and he has now only partial memory of what happened. Doctors put it down to paranoiac psychosis.

Cuffed to the cell bars, a water bottle for a pillow

He does remember dreaming about water, 'Rain making' and 'Rain Dancing', so much so that he turned on all the taps to flood his apartment and others in the block and he became delirious turning his room into an open toilet.

He scratched around looking for food oblivious of the US$2000,  400 pounds sterling,  50,000 baht and bank books in his safe.

On November 13th, after complaints from  residents, Tourist Police attended the scene, his room at the Baan Piyatham Condo in Pattaya 3rd Road, Soi 16.  The British Honorary Consul was notified, but he referred them to the normal police.

Hewitt was first taken by police to Banglamuang Public hospital and it is after that, that he ended up in a police cell handcuffed to the bars off Pattaya Beach Road Soi 9 on a charge of overstaying his visa.

Now recovered , he has paid off all his hospital bills, engaged a lawyer, and will face a court which will decide how to punish him for overstaying his visa.

Bunchai - Picture Pattaya Daily News

He says he cannot remember anything about what happened at Pattaya  Soi 9 police station except that on one occasion another foreigner, an American, whom he described as 'mad as a hatter', banged him on the back of the head when he had his face against the bars.

He remembers being chained to the bars and said he did not care as he was 'on the train to hell'.

He vaguely remembers being taken from the police station to the hospital.

'I remember thinking I do not want to go directly to hell. I told everyone on the train (He was in a police car) that I wanted to get off and walk through the land of the dead first.  When I got to the hospital I was glad, because I thought they had kept their promise. That was my state of mind. I have only partial recall. It was like Bedlam but they were very good to me and they unchained me after just one day'.

Hewitt repeated his thanks to those people who came to his support such Tracy Cosgrave.

'I am so lucky there were good people around'.

After many years in Pattaya, he said, he had no friends. 'I never met anyone worth keeping as a friend.'

He once had a local pub the 'Dog's Bollocks' run by former 'Chelsea Headhunter' Chris Henderson, below left.  But apparently fell out with the drinkers there too.

'What happens to me is in the hands of the Thai authorities. I have an Emirates ticket back to England and maybe my thoughts should now go to my elderly mum back home.'

Hewitt's case perhaps highlights more than any other case the controversy over what help Britons can expect in these situations from their Embassy.

The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office insists that Hewitt received consular assistance prior to his admission to hospital in Bangkok. But the consular assistance appeared to have been limited to water and some food in the lock-up.

Stories that he overstayed his visa in the past and was in fact a drugs dealer appear to have no basis in truth. But he does have an ongoing health problem.

Britain's Honorary Consul in Pattaya knew of the condition of Hewitt long before November 24th, the official date the British FCO say they heard of his plight at the police station.

His landlord Bunchai went both to the Consular office next to Pattaya Immigration and insists he also called the Embassy talking to a person called Jeffrey (phonetic).  On both occasions staff expressed disinterest.

'They said they could do nothing,' said Bunchai.

Bunchai was 'caught on tape' (1 min 29 secs)  complaining that he had complained to the British Embassy.  He said he had been to the Embassy office next to Immigration, on November 10th, but nobody would  deal with the case.


*Dog's Bollocks: London slang for 'the best'. Personally I prefer 'the cat's pyjamas' or 'the bee's knees'. The Dog's Bollocks in Pattaya was run by a Briton called Chris Henderson, best known as a one time leader of the Chelsea Headhunters, the football hooligans. Henderson wrote the book 'Who wants it?' (as in who wants a kicking). He was deported from Thailand last year with a serious foot infection (seriously).


COMMENT: Well I think I have said this already, but there is a moral issue here. I am sure that its written down somewhere that the British Embassy are not obliged to provide help in such cases, or that help is restricted to telling someone to get a lawyer and provide a list of those available. But I still find it beyond belief that a Embassy representative could have done little else than provide a bit of food and water, and maybe clothes, as a sort of stop gap, while this man wasted away chained to a cell bar. The expression 'nutter' is one apparently used by an Embassy official in Soi Cowboy, Bangkok, a few days ago, who was complaining that the Embassy was unfairly attacked. That Hewitt had brought things on himself was clear. But these people need help too.

So thanks again to Tracy Cosgrove for helping this man out and monitoring the case while she was away in the UK for a month.  Tracy is truly the dog's, er, cat's pyjamas.


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