From ANDREW DRUMMOND
Sunday October 9 2011
An Irish father and his two young children have been told to stay in hiding for least another year in Thailand as investigations continue into corruption allegations involving police on the holiday island of Phuket.
Colin Vard, 57, cousin of the famous Irish singing trio The Vard Sisters, and himself a former well known businessman in Dublin and children's author, who said he was robbed of ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬1 million worth of properties on the island, has been told by police in Surat Thani, that he will have to remain in hiding off island, until the case was tied up.
Vard, founding president of the All Ireland Leo Club, was allegedly robbed by a group of lawyers, criminals, and police, who used his Thai maid, to get the documentation which enabled them to steal six properties he had bought in the Chalong area of Phuket. At least one house ended up in the hands of a relative of a senior policeman, it is claimed.
Exclusive video: Family on the run in Thailand
The same policeman has been linked to a recent scam in which a South African was milked of 700,000 baht - ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â‚¬Å¡Ã‚Â¬17,000 after being falsely accused of passing forged American dollars at a money exchange in Phuket.
In fact the dollars turned out to be real, but the South African, Gabriel Sequeira, was detained while his family and friends flew home. Police demands for cash, he said, meant the family had to repeatedly draw cash from their credit cards and send it to Thailand.
(left) Gabriel Sequeira finally arrives back in South Africa in a media storm)
Police in Phuket have denied any charges of wrong-doing and say that if any money was taken it must have been taken by Sequeira's lawyers,Phuketwan reports.
In cases being brought in relation to Colin Vard there was a stand-off last May on Phuket when local police in Chalong turned back investigators and later held back files from police from the Regional Headquarters in Surat Thani who arrived to investigate the property frauds involving seven different houses.
The matter has since been resolved and now a team led by Police Colonel Cherdprong Chewpreecha a radically new style officer in the Thai Police, who hates corruption, is handling the investigation from Police Headquarters, Region 8 in Surat Thani.
In the latter stages of the swindling of Colin Vard, and while he was away in Bangkok, his housekeeper Nittaya Sukumpa, 37, with whom he had had a brief relationship, allegedly padlocked both his children Jessie,12 and Daire,9, in a well for two nights with the help of a Thai ladyboy.
In Bangkok Police Major General Prawut Thavornsiri national spokesperson for the Royal Thai Police, said: 'Those guilty must be brought to justice, whoever they are, even if they are police and lawyers.'
Meanwhile Police Colonel Cherdprong (left) advises foreigners to be cautious about whom they form relationships with in Thailand.
Police Stand-Off on Holiday Isle
Children padlocked in a well