The confirmation by the Thai Appeal Court of a 50-year-jail sentence on former British soldier Lance Whitmore for selling ecstasy tablets in the Thai resort of Pattaya will probably not stir an iota of sympathy in many.
But to me it is only a sad confirmation not only of the lack of humanity but a confirmation of the dark side of a country which is celebrated world-wide for its ‘hospitable and gentle people’.. if confirmation were needed that is.
Whitmore, 27, was guilty. No doubt about it. But guilty of what?
His lawyers state that mysteriously from the initial arrest report the weight of the Ecstasy tablets he sold to an under-cover Thai police officer tripled from 8.79 grams to 27.9 grams.
Whitmore was unbelievably stupid too selling drugs to any Thai.
He may well have also been very stupid following his father who had opened up a bar in Pattaya, once referred to by the Observer as a modern day ‘Sodom and Gomorrah’.
His family claim that he was just carrying the drugs for a friend who was the actual dealer. True, perhaps, but that defence would probably not carry much weight in a British court either.
And he had been in Thailand long enough to know all this. He had acquired a job working offshore for Thailand Petroleum Services, and would not have needed to deal in drugs.
But a not guilty plea was not a realistic option in a Thai court. Defendants have to fall on Thai mercy.
After doing so his mother Debbie Caswell was reported today to be in a ‘dark place’.
That is how she described her son’s condition a few months ago.
I initially thought she was referring to Pattaya, but it was the jail.
“If dogs were kept in those conditions there would be an outrage (in UK)”, she said.
After his arrest Whitmore was kept in a ‘safe house’ for three days, presumably to extract more information.
He told his mother he was tortured.
I have no personal knowledge of this case but of course complaints of police adding on to the weight of a drugs haul and beating up suspects are very common and have been true in many other cases.
If Whitmore survives Thailand’s grim jails he may come out an old man, its reported. But lets hope he gets a transfer back home.
So why do I have empathy for a drugs dealer and so much sorrow for his mother?
Well that’s because Thailand lets the career foreign criminals go ‘for cash’.
|Giannini at scene of accident|
Take the case of Canadian boiler room fraudster Frank Giannini. He crashed his car in Pattaya killing two Thais in the process. At the time the media reported he had drugs paraphernalia in his car.
What happened to him – well he just disappeared from the legal system completely. No charges. No case. Nothing.
|One of Giannini’s victims.|
But he resurfaced years later when he was arrested in his home in Lat Krabang where police found a stash of heroin. This was a joint operation with the United States DEA.
He was charged and remanded into prison. Then two weeks after the DEA agent-in-charge left the country he was released!
Did I mention that he had US$100,000 in his safe at the time of his arrest?
The only saving grace is that the officer in charge of the case, Colonel Akkharawut, who was beholden to Bangkok’s boiler rooms, took a dive from a high building six months later when the CSD and CIB were being investigated for corruption.
But the CSD/CIB were only being investigated for corruption because Thailand’s Crown Prince had fallen out and disowned his wife, who had put many of her family members into running these units.
Then of course is the case of Brian Wright, 59, from Rhode Island, who repeatedly raped a 12-year-old girl who was jailed for 36 years at Pattaya Court. Where is he now? God knows. The court took about £10,000 and gave him bail to appeal. Why would he come back to hear he had lost his appeal? He did not.
Neither did Brian Goudie, 48, from Falkirk, a serial conman, who was found guilty of cheating a frail old lady out of nearly US$300,000. He paid his £10,000 and disappeared from jail too.
And then of course there is the other serial conman Drew Noyes, from Wilmington, North Carolina, who was jailed for extortion and then paid bail, plus an additional fee to leave the country, and of course has not been seen since.
The above cases of course are one’s I have been involved in – but nothing beats the case of the three policemen who were found guilty of stringing up and hanging three 17-year-olds in the police station in Kalasin in North East Thailand getting bail after being found guilty!
Thai Police and the Army used to control the drugs trade. That is an historical fact.
They even fought each other over it and ran their own mule convoys down from the Golden Triangle.
In fact, it was not so long ago that I filmed the army building a road to the camp of heroin warlord Khun Sa just over the Burma border – and they were not doing that to catch who was then the DEA’s ‘most wanted man’.
The army and police acorns today have not fallen far from the tree.
I was involved in the prosecution of a murder in Thailand where the murderer beat a woman viciously then finished off the job with a wok of boiling oil. The victims death was unbearably painful, as it was intended.
The defendant got ‘humanity’ – a mere 3 year jail sentence.
No I am afraid Lance Whitmore was a ‘patsy’. There’s no humanity for patsies.