“It was terrifying. My boyfriend was dead. He was staring me in the face and not breathing – but all the clinic boss would say was ‘He’s just sleeping’.

A young Australian woman has told how she fled the Thai island of Koh Phangan after her fiancé died in front of her while undergoing a highly suspect hallucinogenic drug treatment programme.

Treatment boss Victor Cracknell – some mistake

While American self-styled drugs gurus told her to keep quiet or there would be big trouble Kara Spark fled the island on the first available ferry to Koh Samui, she claimed, only to be pursued in continuing efforts to cover up the death.  

Brodie Noel Smith from Mandurah, West Australia, died after being administered with the hallucogenic drug Ibogaine on the first morning of a US$5300 combined four day treatment programme in a US$19 dollar guest house on the island, said 25-year-old Kara Spark.

The programme had been irresponsibly promoted by the Bangkok ‘Coconuts’ website. Ibogaine which comes from the root bark of the Iboga tree is used in tribal rituals in West Africa.

Coconuts TV filmed one Briton and one American undergoing treatment provided by Picone and Cracknell, Show host
Barbara Woolsey described them as being ‘in another world’ – In Brodie’s case he really was.

It has been hailed as a miracle and almost instant cure for drug addiction.  But other drug rehab programme directors say no such wonder cure exists. But they of course run different programmes.

Kara and Brodie

Kara Spark, 25, also from Mandurah, West Australia told how Brodie died in front of her in  Utopia bungalows on Phangan. Both of them had signed up for the course.

Brodie had a long term drugs problem and had been in and out of prison, but Kara went along in essence to hold his hand. But she paid for the course too because she had been convinced ibogaine solved many other problems, such as anxiety.

Besides on the website it is described as the ‘ideal bonding experience’ for couples.

A subsequent police report which said that Brodie died after injecting himself with an unknown narcotic was a complete an utter lie she claimed.

Both Ms Spark and Brodie’s mother Dianne Tucker  who works as a Co-ordinator for the Ngaringga Ngurra Aboriginal Corporation in Halls Creek, Kimberley, managing a refuge for victims of domestic violence, are calling for an enquiry into what went wrong.

The owners of Ibogaine-Thailand Victor Cracknell and Mike Picone hail from Buffalo, New York, and are former drug users. They claimed to be licensed by the Thai Ministry of Public Health – and their logo is very similar to the Ministry’s.

But they have no premises, no medical qualifications, and employ no staff, medical or otherwise, though Kara says a third person, an American woman called Brea was present on the day of Brodie’s death. This may be a woman called Breazus Love on Facebook and on Victor Cracknell’s Facebook page who has just given birth.

Their only item of medical equipment is a heart rate monitor.

Global Ibogaine Therapist Alliance which advocates the use of Ibogaine to cure drug addiction has begun its own enquiry.

Mike Picone

Of more concern is the cover up on an island where almost anything a price.  And how the two Americans were even allowed to administer such a course.

One of the Americans has put a fuzzy photo of his work permit on his Facebook page. However it is not clear enough for anyone to detect what the work permit was for.

Police from the same command which investigated the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller on the neighbouring island of Koh Tao appear to have paid scant attention to his death.

Victor Cracknell told them that he discovered the body when he called on the couple who were old friends intending to take them around the island on a tour.

That was a clear lie. They had only met the day before when the Americans met their new clients at the local ferry point.

Said Kara: “Brodie heard about the treatment on the net so we filled in the form provided. I spoke to both Americans  by phone a number of times. 

They said we would be in a four star resort with floatation tanks. It turned out to be an empty guest house.

Ministry of Public Health Logo

We arrived on October 20th and Victor checked us in. They re-assured us and told us they were Thai Government approved. We were disappointed with the accommodation. But we had paid already.

They said we would be taking 40 mg per kilo body weight.  

Treatment began the following morning. Victor came at 7.45. I asked if they wanted hard copies of our tests they said no.  

We  were really excited this was a new beginning for us. Brodie was doing this to better his life and ours. Victor came in about 7.45 and sat on the floor while we were getting ready.

We sat on the bed, we cekebrated our new life together. Victor sat there and watched he could see how happy we were.A few times we cuddled.

We were told no one dies, it was legal, government approved, we will be closely monitored so we will be fine, they guaranteed us. 

We have nothing to worry about we will 100% guaranteed us we will be spiritually healed. They said the biggest problem they had were people sleeping though its only happened a couple of times. Since doing research ibogaine causes insomnia. We had to wear eye masks and ear plugs

 First of all we drank a lot of water then Victor gave what he said was an initial anti-nausea dose of ibogaine in capsule form at 8.30 pm. At he gave the rest. 

I wanted to lie on the same bed as Brodie. But they said I could not do so – as it could be dangerous if he flailed around. 

At about 11.40 am Vic told Brodie to take two valiums. They were blue hexagonal pills.

 Victor said take these 2 valium they will put you in a sleep like state.

Within twenty minutes Brodie was having trouble breathing. His breathing was heavy. He was short of breath.  Then he stopped breathing. He was staring at me his eyes wide open


Ibogaine Thailand logo

I called out his name twice. He did not respond. Vic Cracknell said ‘No he is just sleeping.’ But I knew Brodie was dead.  Vic told me to take some more valium and go to sleep in another room. He said I was hysterical. Well I was hysterical. I had just watched my boyfriend die in front of me.”

Kara said that when she tried to give Brodie CPR Victor told her to stop. ‘I was tripping his sleeping.” 

 When I physically couldn’t anymore I made victor. I tried for an hour, the whole time screaming at them to call police. 

I wanted get off the island. They would not let me use a phone to call my Nan in Australia. But eventually relented. I asked them to find out how I could get off the island. 

Nobody wanted to take Brodie to the hospital. But I screamed and shouted. Eventually he was moved. Police came but I did not talk to them. I was in no state to. I was scared of them. Vic said we would ALL be in trouble. 

 All three (Cracknell, Picone and Brea) were telling me to relax and go to sleep ‘You will wake up with Brodie, it will be ok’. Over and over again. At one stage they made me lay on the bed where he had just got killed. I was horrified and became hysterical I promised them I would take more tablets relax and sleep if they let me go to Koh Samui

“I did not listen to the story Vic gave police. I just wanted to get away.  I got to the ferry point and got the 4.45 pm ferry to Koh Samui, but when I arrived Mike Picone was there waiting for me. He must have got a speedboat. I said I wanted to go to a hospital. I was not feeling well myself. I thought I was going to die too. I had trouble breathing.

Cracknell’s Facebook profile

“Mike had taken our passports from our luggage in all the confusion. He wanted to book me into a resort. I refused. I tried to get into a taxi but he told the taxi driver not to take me to a hospital. 

I was not feeling well. I had taken the tablets too and had difficulty breathing. 

Eventually after four hours he relented. I was taken to the Bangkok-Samui hospital and admitted to the ICU. That was about 9.30 pm. Thankfully I had travel insurance. The bill for one day was US$1700. 

 Mike said it was a miracle I was alive. He said my adrenalin kept me alive.
“All the time he was trying to tell me to lie if I was questioned.

“My family managed to get hold of the Australian Embassy and their Honorary Consul Kenneth Chung came to see me. I told him the whole story and he said the Americans should be facing attempted murder or manslaughter.

“ I would not take part in any cover up. I gave the whole story to a policeman called Virapong who came from Koh Phanghan – but now I hear that Ibogaine-Thailand is still operating and taking cash.”

Brodie’s mother Diane Parker is also shocked. She said: “They killed my son. There is no doubt about it.”

Shortly before his death Brodie posted a Facebook message looking forward to getting his treatment and ending his methamphetamine addiction.

In his letter he said he he knew his mother ‘Mama Bear’ would be happy with his latest news which was that he was going to undergo Ibogaine treatment in Thailand.

“It has a 92 per cent success rate of people not using within the first six months at all, ” he said adding that it was not well known because it was illegal in many countries ‘cos of its hallucinogenic properties’ and secondly because pharmaceutical companies did not share in the profits so opposed it.

Mrs Tucker sent an emotional message to

“You bastards murdered him. I just watched the video on one of your other websites, and the hotel room shown look nothing like the photos I have of his room.

I currently have someone investigating the whole centre, from the people who did not attempt to resuscitate him, to the medication that Kara came home with.

Kara and Brodie on Koh Phangan

I am telling as many people as I can what you have done, how no one gave a shit about his life. 

I have a recording of Mike saying that they could be charged with 3 life sentences if Kara talked. 

You bastards have traumatised that girl forever. So much for being treated for anxiety.”

Mrs.Tucker said:

“Three weeks after Brodie died, I had a ” heart attack”, right in front of Kara.  

“I have what is called Kotosubo Cardiomyopathy. It is also known as broken heart syndrome. 

Dianne Tucker

“Fortunately, a colleague was with me, and performed CPR until an ambulance arrived. I kept telling them at the hospital, that I duct have a heart attack, my heart was just broken.”

Both women said Brodie did not inject drugs. A death certificate states that Brodie died of heart seizure after taking narcotics.

But the hospitals on Koh Phangan and little more than clinics and holding places for patients of the international hospitals on Koh Samui.

Neither Cracknell nor Picone responded to questions sent to them.

However when we asked for information to book in a client they sent the following message.

Cracknell and Picone on the rather naive ‘Coconuts’ video

“We would be happy to facilitate this life changing session for your friend. We would need to hear from your friend personally. He would need to be completely off Yaba, meth and alcohol for at least 5 days before doing IbogAine. Failure to follow this requirement could result in irreparable harm and even death.  

Our treatment costs $2500 usd. that includes 4 days accommodation, fruit, juices and water. We require a $850 usd deposit to reserve the treatment dates. We are normally booked 3 months in advance but we do have some availability if your friend wanted to come sooner.  

We would need a few basic medical tests from your friend. They are called ECG, LFT and CBC. Please have your friend fill out the medical inquiry form on our website so we know how best to prepare and treat him.
Thank you – Victor and Mike”

Meanwhile Koh Phangan Police possibly not anxious to publicise the death of yet another of a foreigner on Koh Phangan, famous for its monthly out of control Full Moon parties, appear to have completely whitewashed an investigation.
Not only did they appear to accept the fact that Cracknell (spelt phonetically as Cregnil) was a friend who just happen to call in at the Utopia Bungalow to visit his friends to take them on a tour –  but they accepted without question the fact that Brodie had injected himself.
They also recorded the time of death as 7 am on October 21st – not after midday as Kara claimed.
Had they been able to do a Google search they would easily have found that Cracknell ran a drugs rehab programme on Koh Samui – but of course the cover up was instigated by the two Americans, claims Kara, and she was afraid to talk until she got off the island.
They would also have been able to see a post by Picone on Facebook described how he had tried just about every cocktail of drugs to see ‘how deep was the rabbit whole’ – then he had bought a trailer (camper van) and proceeded to tour the world before ending up in Asia.
They would also have been able to see the fuzzy copy of Cracknell’s work permit – number 0016768.

And quick glance at the original would have shown he was involved in ‘medical supplies’.

Honorary Consul Kenneth Chung said he could not comment on consular cases. Koh Phangan Police said they could not proceed with an investigation until Kara returned to the island – an unlikely event.

The two Americans have registered a company on Koh Phangan with a capital of 4 million baht or 

approximately US$122,000 US dollars but its unlikely they will have have had to show the cash.

They should also have Thai employees. 

The company is not registered to run a drugs rehab programme but to sell pharmaceuticals.

Nor of course is registered.

Koh Phangan Detox Co Ltd [0805557000138]
(บริษัท เกาะพะงัน ดีท๊อกซ์ จำกัด)
63/2 Mu 7 Ko Phangan, Ko Phangan, Surat Thani
established: 29-Jan-2014
reg. cap.: 4,000,000.00 baht

Business sector: 
46441 – Wholesale of pharmaceutical and medical goods

Mr Michael Picone (นายไมเคิล ฟิโคน)
Mr Victor Charles Cracknell (นายวิเตอร์ ชาร์เลส แครกแนล)

Thai (3): 4,000,000 baht (100%)

Footnote: Cracknell also offers courses at the Yoga Retreat on Koh Phangan for 30,000 Thai baht for a week with a one day break.

This course will certify you as a Basic and Advanced Theta healing practitioner and teach you how to manifest abundance in your life! Theta healing is a super charged method of meditation and prayer that allows you to utilize the creative life energy of the universe to change limiting conscious and subconscious beliefs, and perform physical, spiritual and emotional healing. 

This course will teach you how to directly address the subconscious mind and witness The Creator healing you and your clients. It will teach you how to clear limiting beliefs and energy blocks, D.N.A. repair and activation. How to download beliefs and feelings from The Creator. How to clear depression, anxiety, grief and fears. How to connect and speak with guardian angels and spirit guides. How to remove oaths vows obligations and curses from past lives and how to scan the body! 

However you can do a Yoga course there for 10,000 baht a week – and it comes highly recommended. I am not sure they can guarantee that you can use the creative life energy of the universe though or get to see your Creator.

Ibogaine, a hallucinogen that is derived from a West African shrub, has been studied as a treatment for addictions to opiates, methamphetamine and other drugs. Some users have reported a dream-like state that gives them insights into their addictions and visions that help them overcome negative emotions and fears. In rat studies, Ibogaine reduced alcohol consumption and opiate withdrawal symptoms.
Why the Controversy: Ibogaine has been illegal in the U.S. since the 1960s. Because of severe side effects such as hallucinations, seizures, and fatal heart arrhythmia and brain damage in patients with other health problems, the drug has been classified as a Schedule I substance and clinical studies have been limited – source

‘The Five Most Controversial Addiction Treatments’.

How we warned about this programme

The controversial ‘Coconuts’ video

Shea Preuger should not be confused with set up by American model Shea Preuger which ran a programme for a short while on Koh Samui.

According to the link below she was driven off the island. She now runs a programme in Costa Rica but says she employs registered nurses and is fully medically equipped.


Ibogaine related fatalities


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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