Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Wednesday, January 02, 2013


A 22-year-old British tourist was killed (today) in the cross fire when rivals gangs clashed on the Full Moon Party Island of Koh Phangan after the New Year countdown.

Stephen Ashton was shot in the side apparently while dance on the sand on Haad Rin Beach on the island, just north of the tourist hotspot of Koh Samui. 

The Foreign Office Travel advisory singles out the island as a place of concern and specifically mentions roving Thai gangs.

Nurses at Bandon Hospital which has only elementary surgical facilities were unable to revive Stephen Ashton, from Purley.

Ashton from Redhill, Surrey, was staying at the Pink Bungalows and partying with friends outside the beachside Zoom bar on the island, which is famous for its Full Moon Parties, when the shooting took place.

The gunman was later seized by Thai police and names as Ekkapan Kaewkla.  He is expected to be presented in court on Wednesday after a police press conference. He has however denied being the killer, while admitting being involved in the fight.

Zoom Bar
The Deputy Regional Police Commissioner Police Lt Gen Kittisan Dejsoonthornwat,is flying to the island to oversee the case.

The shooting incident happened after a fight between two groups of Thais at the Zoom bar.

Police Colonel Kittakarn Kramothong, the head of the island’s police station said: “Stephen was not involved in the fight. The gun used was home-made. He was arrested in Ban Tai.”

Ban Tai is a hard to reach community in the central forested hilly area of the island

The Koh Phangan Full Moon parties are on many youngsters and gap year students ‘to do lists’.

But foreign tourists have been attacked and even raped in the past and many Thais from Bangkok just do not visit the Samui archipelago because of what they derscribe as ' ísland mentality'.

A historical photo of a drugs menu being offered on
Haad Rin Beach. Drugs are still available but not quite so

Other deaths of foreigners on Koh Phangan include frequent drugs overdoses and drownings of young intoxicated people who go swimming during the all night raves.  There can be a strong undertow at Haad Rin.

But three Thais were gunned down in a similar fight on Haad Rin beach in 2004. 

In 2007 Israeli tourist David Kakitelashvic, 31, died after being stabbed eight times  in the Drop Inn Bar on Haad Rin Beach.

British party raver sending the wrong signals on Haad
Rin Beach
The Foreign Office Travel advisory pays special attention to the Koh Samui archipelago a popular destination for British tourists.

“Western tourists have been victims of vicious unprovoked attacks by gangs in Koh Phangan. These attacks are particularly common around the time of the Full Moon parties and generally occur late at night near bars in Haad Rin. Exercise caution when walking in this area at any time, especially after dark.

“Violent assaults and robberies have been reported in Chaweng, Koh Samui. Attacks have also occurred in other tourist districts in Thailand frequented by western tourists including Chiang Mai. Care should be taken in such areas, especially at night.

“There have been incidents of sexual offences committed against foreign men and women, especially in the Koh Samui archipelago. Since 2009, a number of British nationals were victims of serious sexual offences”

Daily Mail  Evening Standard

One or two readers have expressed concern that this story has gone up late on this site. Yesterday I was working for a number of news organisations in London. In these circumstances I have to let them publish first or I do not get paid. If I put on the net they will simply take what they want.



rhea marks said...

I recall an editorial from a foreign newspaper about the darkside of Thai tourism where you get exposed to danger such as crimes. I'll pass on Thailand for now and stay at the hotels in hyde park.

Jonathan Park said...

Time and time again, our elders have been warning us to be wary when we are in strange lands. I guess the realization should have to come from the tourist himself that he should avoid going to crowded places where he knows no one. I'm quite cautious in international traveling but if not for our safari honeymoon, I'd probably just stay home and prepare a special dinner for the whole duration of it. Condolence to the family, though.