Feckless Briton deported from Thailand

July 29 2011
Sunday Mirror (a very odd edit)

A British computer engineer, who was left to languish in a Thai jail, naked, emaciated, chained to the bars and close to death after suffering a mental breakdown, was deported to Britain early today (SAT).

Richard Hewitt, 49, had been arrested wandering incoherently in the Thai resort of Pattaya last November after falling victim to its offerings of sex, drugs, and alcohol. He said before his departure that he had been asked by British Embassy officials not to talk to the media about his plight.

One of those who found him said it looked like he had been ‘left to die’. But the Foreign Office said he had been afforded full ‘consular assistance’.

On taking up his post as the new Ambassador to Thailand Asif Ahmad announced that more funds were available for Britons in trouble abroad. But that may not include what he described as ‘feckless Brits’. The Embassy has not confirmed Hewitt fitted that category.
But they may have been given false information about his background.

Hewitt, in his punk days a guitarist with ‘Isobell Barnett and the Shoplifters’ had been chained for two weeks without even being brought to court. What food he had was consumed by other inmates who had also attacked him. But he did not care, as he admitted later, he has long since lost any grasp on reality.

After (but not necessarily as a result of) a furor on expatriate forums in Thailand caused by publication of the pictures of Hewitt on www.andrew.local the British Embassy sent its Honorary Consul in Pattaya, Howard Miller, back to the police station.

But Hewitt had already been saved by a British expatriate charity worker Tracy Cosgrove, of the Melissa Cosgrove Foundation, who had rushed to the police station as soon as she heard the news and had Hewitt washed, dressed, fed and clothed and arranged for him to be sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Hewitt made a recovery within two weeks. He had suffered a mental breakdown after his over-indulgence.

When he recovered it turned out that Hewitt, a graduate in computer engineering from Sheffield University, was well off, having come into an inheritance from his father. The inheritance he admits was part of his problem.

An unofficial part of his punishment was that he had to survive and support himself for eight months in Thailand in the country’s antiquated legal system on a charge of overstaying his visa.  Fortunately he was allowed bail. Two weeks ago he was fined the equivalent of £50 and ordered to be deported.

Of his experience Hewitt said: ‘All I can remember is dreaming that I was on the train to hell. I remember telling police that I wanted to get off and travel through the land of the dead first.  When I got to the hospital I was glad because I thought they had kept their promise. Now I realize Tracy saved my life.’

‘The British Embassy has sent me a message through my lawyer not to talk about the case.’

Benny Moafi, who campaigns on behalf of prisoners in Thai jails and who found and took the pictures of Hewitt said: ‘In my opinion he was being left to die and certainly would have had he not been taken care of. He was hallucinating when I saw him and – just a skeleton.’

Said Tracey Cosgrove, well known for her charity work in Thailand and Burma: ‘It’s good to see Richard going home at last to see him mum. But he should have been sent home a long time ago.’

About the Author

Andrew Drummond

Andrew Drummond is a British independent journalist and occasional television documentary maker. He is a former Fleet Street, London, journalist having worked at the Evening Standard, Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, News of the World, Observer and The Times.

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