From ANDREW DRUMMOND,
Welfare officials in Thailand have interviewed two Irish children aged 12 and 9, who were allegedly thrown down a well, while their father was away on a business trip and being robbed of his property.
How the Daily Mail May 2 2011 ran with the story
Police in Chalong, Phuket, interviewed Jessie and Daire Vard and videoed the children's answers in the presence of child care officers, but they could not confirm they would be able to press further charges against the housekeeper and her boyfriend who allegedly threw the children into the well, padlocked it and them allegedly set about selling Vard's mansion and six other houses without his knowledge.
Both children say they were thrown into the well by the housekeeper and her accomplice Daeng and had to stand in the shallow water for two days.
The well - to the left
The housekeeper Nittaya Sukumpa, 38, has been charged with defrauding Vard out of his ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬600,000 mansion in Phuket, and his car.
Police are still investigating the alleged theft of six other properties he had bought and was renting out, some of which appear to have ended up in the hands of relatives of police and officials and bar owners on the holiday island, who got the property at rock bottom prices.
Colin Vard, from Arklow, County Wicklow, sold his company Glen Abbey, a clothing manufacturer, some ten years ago, before moving to Thailand with Jessie, then two.
He had a brief liaison with his housekeeper and she became pregnant. There was never a relationship, he said, just an error in judgment. But last year, he said, she ran off with his car and their son Daire, 9, and sent him a message that he could have his son back for 5 million baht, over ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬113,000. It was then that Mr. Vard discovered that all his houses worth ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬1.3 million had been changed into his housekeeper's name.
Mr.Vard spend months travelling with his daughter Jessie in the hunt for Daire travelling to most of Thailand's provinces and meeting with police in all of them and showing them photographs.
A happy Daire with police after they returned him to his father
But it was not until they made contact with Police Colonel Cherdprong Chewpreecha at the the Surat Thai heaquarters of Police Region 8 that he struck lucky. 'Chilli', as he is known, realised it was a not a run of the mill 'Thai wife scorned' case and set about tracking Nittaya Sukumpa and duly found her in Nong Khai near the border with Laos, in Daeng's home village.
After Daire was recovered by police the children then admitted that they had been put down a well in the grounds of Mr. Vard's mansion and left there for two days, while their father was away.
They also said they had been taken out by Nittaya and dumped near a temple in Phuket and Nittaya only took them back after witnesses stopped her car.
Of the well incident Jessie said: 'We were crying all the time, especially Daire. There were all sorts of creepy crawlies like big centipedes, 'said Dublin born Jessie.
She said Nittaya had thrown them both into the well with an accomplice, a lady boy called Daeng.
Their father also learned that teachers from the school had complained about beatings Jessie appeared to have taken and were shown photographs of injuries to Jessie's legs, pictures which Nittaya had kept hidden.
Police on the Thai mainland had taken over the enquiry after local officials prevaricated and they tracked Nittaya down to a small village in Nong Khai near the Laos border.
Said Police Colonel Cherdprong Chewpreecha: 'Nittaya only would have got about 10 to 15 per cent from the sales of the houses. Our enquiries are continuing.'
The children cannot however give a date for the incident.
Police have yet to interview a gardener who, Mr. Vard said, rescued the children after hearing their cries. The gardener has since moved to another province. If he does not confirm the story a prosecution is unlikely.
"If have spoken to him and from the way he answers my questions I know the story is true," said Mr. Vard adding: 'but he knows the people involved."
How the story appeared in the Irish Star May 3 2011