‘I killed the farang with a hammer. Please tell the lady I’m so sorry’: Burmese pirate confesses to murder of Briton on sailing trip
By Andrew Drummond and Andrew Chant (link to Mail on Sunday) : Pictures: Andrew Chant/Linda Robertson
29th March 2009
A teenager arrested after the murder of British yachtsman Malcolm Robertson has confessed to the killing from his cell – but may never be charged with the crime.
Fisherman Eksian Warapon, 19, (centre right)admitted: ‘I did it. And I did it alone. First I knocked the farang [the foreigner] down with a hammer. Then when I was told that he was still alive I went back and hit him several times until I heard his skull crack.
‘If I ever get out of jail I’ll lead a good, proper life. Please tell the lady [Mr Robertson’s wife Linda] I’m so sorry. I know I do not deserve to live.’
However, Thai authorities say they cannot prosecute for murder because they do not have a body. Eksian says he threw Mr Robertson’s body overboard.
Eksian Warapon, right, has confessed from jail to killing Malcolm Robertson with a hammer after boarding his boat with shipmate Aow, left
Eksian, known as Ek, said he was puzzled why he had not been charged with killing 64-year-old Mr Robertson. Ek and his ‘amateur pirate’ shipmates Aow, 18, and Ko, 17, have been charged only with kidnap, assault and theft.
Mr Robertson and his 57-year-old wife, from St Leonard’s in East Sussex, had been sailing their yacht Mr Bean from Phuket in Thailand to the Malaysian island of Langkawi.
They were set upon after they moored off Butang Island in Tarutao National Marine Park on Tuesday.
Their assailants swam out to the mooring and attacked Mr Robertson (right) as he tried to throw them off the boat.
Ek, who was born in Phuket to Burmese parents who were killed in a car crash when he was 14, said that he, Aow and Ko had been working aboard a Thai fishing vessel.
But he claimed that conditions were bad – with little or no pay and work that was too heavy for the teenagers to carry out – so they decided to jump ship.
Ek said: ‘Last week our fishing boat moored for the night between two islands off Satun. On one of the islands we could see a park ranger’s office and some sign of life, so we decided to swim there.
‘It was on the side of the boat that the crew couldn’t see. But after we jumped off the tide changed the boat’s position. It swung around 180 degrees so we had to swim around the boat and off with the current in the opposite direction to the other island, Butang.
‘But there was no food there. We didn’t eat for two days. We were marooned and we thought we would die there. On the third day we saw a yacht moored off the island and decided that at nightfall we would go there, try to get the yacht’s dinghy and take it to the other island and get some food.’
The pirates boarded the Robertson’s 44ft ketch Mr Bean. They had moored off uninhabited Butang Island and had spent the day swimming and sunbathing.
Ek added: ‘At midnight we swam to the yacht and climbed on board. At first we all looked for food on the top of the boat but there was none.
‘Then I found a hammer and decided to go downstairs for food. I got down and turned right and found a torch. I opened a door and saw a woman sleeping there.
‘I quietly shut it before she woke up. Looking around again I found a knife and thought I could use that to cut away the dinghy from the yacht.
‘Then I heard a cough from in front and figured that the wife must have been sleeping in one room and the man in the other. First of all the man just turned over and didn’t wake up. I crouched down and then started looking for food again.
‘Then he turned over again and quickly sat upright. Our eyes met. He came towards me shouting and I struck him twice with the hammer, knocking him semiconscious.’
Brutal: Ek repeatedly hit Mr Robertson with this hammer until he heard his skull crack
‘He fell down and I went straight for the ladder. The lady must have heard because as I was going up she came out and screamed. I showed her the knife and shouted ‘Stop’ in English. She stopped and I put her back into her room and tied her up.
‘I shouted for Ko to check to see if the man was dead. He said he was not dead. I told the boy to watch the lady and went to see the man.
‘As I went in he stumbled into me,’ said Ek, miming a head butt. ‘I was shocked and scared and hit him again with the hammer three or four times. On the final blow I heard a loud crack and he collapsed to the floor. I just used the hammer. I did not slit his throat as police have claimed.
‘After that we got the lady to start the boat. Then we sent her back to the room. We drove the boat for what seemed like only a couple of minutes before we put the engine on idle.
‘I went down with Aow and we pulled the body up to the top, put the legs over the side rails, lifted the body up and threw it off. I was worried people would see the blood on the boat. Now I don’t know why or how I could have done it. But none of us wanted the body on the boat.
‘From then on we ate everything we could find and decided to motor far away. When we got near to a port, which we found out was Satun, we decided to leave the ship. We locked Mrs Linda in the cabin, but we had loosened her ropes a little because she was complaining of the pain. Then we got into the dinghy. But it broke down a few yards away.
‘We tried to get back to the boat but she sailed away in front of us. After a while we got the outboard going and headed for shore. But we were picked up by the police very quickly.’
Malcolm and Linda were sailing the globe on their yacht Mr Bean
Last night Mrs Robertson said that Ek’s claims ‘leave me cold’. She added: ‘It’s easy to confess to a crime when you have been caught red-handed.
‘I am in disbelief that these men have only been charged with assault, theft and kidnap and not murder, not even manslaughter. However, if he gets 15 years or life it makes no difference to me.
‘The youngest of the three was the only person who showed any remorse. He brought me food and drink and stroked my feet which were in agony because they were tightly bound.
‘These people had a picnic on board the yacht and I could hear them laughing and joking as if they did not have a care in the world.’
She added: ‘I would rather think of the happy memories I had with my husband. Malcolm was a great kidder. He had everyone convinced that Rowan Atkinson sent him a sizeable cheque every year for using the name Mr Bean. Of course it was tosh, but he earned a few drinks out of that one.
‘I’m trying to close my mind to the bad memories and relive the fond ones.’