Thursday, January 3, 2013

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Thai Killer May Face Light Sentence

The family of Stephen Ashton issued a statement today expressing their devastation at his death as an innocent bystander.

And as they did so the Royal Thai Police announced that the alleged shooter would be charged with manslaughter and illegally carrying a fire-arm.

This may be of little comfort to the family reeling from the shock of the shooting of 22-year-old Stephen - who was taking a long break travelling to Australia - after leaving a job in the city, on the Thai party island of Koh Phangan early on New year's morning.

Historically the country’s courts have handed out comparatively light sentences for manslaughter. Especially if the killer co-operates with the police.

These can be just two to three years – and have even been suspended in some cases including one in Bangkok.

Foreign diplomats were watching the situation closely. Many Embassies had made representations about safety issues on the Thai islands of Phuket, Koh Samui and Koh Phangan.

Most of those issues have yet to be resolved. 

British Ambassador Mark Kent has headed on a tour of the south. It was pre-scheduled but now he will be heading first to Koh Samui and Koh Phangan and will visit the murder scene on Friday. He is not expected to meet with Stephen’s mother Diana, who last night was recovering from the shock and lack of sleep back home in Purley

The family ins their statement issued through the Foreign Office said that they were "completely devastated by the loss of Stephen from our lives"

 "He has been taken away from us in such cruel and tragic circumstances in which he was an innocent bystander simply enjoying New Year celebrations."

Britons are at the top of the victims list in the Samui Archipelago in the Gulf of Thailand, and there is a serious event involving a tourist at almost every one of the Full Moon Party’s on Haadrin Beach, where Ashton was shot outside the Zoom bar.

Outside the Zoom Bar on Koh Phangan where Steven Aashton was shot.
Last year was a particularly bad one for British tourists.  In May there was a stabbing of a Briton, in July two British women made reports of rape, in August a 28-year-old man from London was shot in the leg, and in September another rape was reported.

Back in 2004 three Thai people died in a shoot out on Haadrin Beach and four years ago an Israeli tourist was stabbed to death.

These sort of incidents are just those reported to Consular officials. Many more victims, particularly of rape, do not report attacks to police but leave the island immediately.

The Foreign Office was forced to put out a warning about roaming Thai gangs.

It is unclear at this stage whether the Thais will go for a quick trial of 26-year-old Ekkapan Kaewkla to appease international concern or put the case through the usual process in which case conviction could be two years ago.

Ekkapan has told police that he pulled his home made gun after a fist fight broke out between his group and another group of Thai men at the Zoom Bar on Haadrin Beach. He did this because, he said, his group was losing and outnumbered. He did not intend to shoot a foreigner.

Ekkapan Kaewkla interviewed by Thai police
There were however indications from senior police arriving from the Regional headquarters on the mainland at Surat Thani thatm as in the case of Katherine Horton, 23, who was murdered and raped in Koh Samui on New Year's Day 2006., they would go for a speedy process.

In that case three fishermen were arrested tried and sentenced within two weeks.


  1. Have western governments not thought of holding back aid funds when cases like this occur? The Thais would understand that hard "trading" approach.
    I appreciate embassy staff speak politely indirectly and diplomatically and do not want to cause offence. But we should surely be playing our hand differently given the large number of these incidents against farangs.
    How would Thais handle a similar situation if a Thai were a victim in the UK. Try to gloss over it?

  2. Oh dear Doi.

    Thailand is a non functioning democracy in which the minority exploit the rest with total abandon. it's a dog eat soi dog world where no one cares about anything very much except how much money they can steal and how things look.

    The British diplomatic corps over the years have been nothing but a succession of sycophants working their passage on the home stretch with a view to a rather nice retirement. The last interim ambo was different but only because he had nothing to lose. This current chap is a Yingluck groupie if ever there was one and will create waves as much as I will climb Baiyoke Tower. He's a pussy and quite anaemic.

    Now, contrast the performance of the Thai police, the Thai authorities and the stance taken by British dips over the investigation of the Kirsty Jones case, now 12 years since she was raped and murdered, with the investigation of the two Russian women robbed and raped last week in Pattaya in which the perps have been apprehended already amid publicity involving no less than 3 police generals.

    Perhaps the limp wristed, useless Brit timeservers in Wittayu Rd might care to pick up the phone and ask Boris how he did what he did?

  3. Wow. I would have said that in this case the British Embassy have played this one quite well. There is quite a furore in the UK - and that is backed up by newspapers being able to quote a very real warning on the FCo Travel Advisory. This warning is much more specific about the Samui Archipelago. Do not think the Russian mob secured the arrest of the Thais accused of the Pattaya rapes, but I remain open minded. Its not beyond the pale.

  4. Yes. It has hit the UK press and the embassy has been more specific than usual. It does not take away my point though that a tougher stance is needed.

    Sit back and think how the Thais would react if the same thing happened in the UK. They'd hit back and hit back hard. And we would react quite quickly to their overtures given the amount of uk debt owned by Thais. (And yes i admit that has not a little bearing on foreign office attitudes.

    Don't follow the Yingluck reference, Gerry even if it were relevant to the present topic.

    The Kirsty Jones case is one that the embassy tried hard to deal with but were powerless. Again, my point applies.