This is one of my favourite photographs from Thailand. It’s a picture of three Thai policemen and one foreigner arrested on kidnap charges. Can you spot the cops?  No, they’re covered up.

American John McCleary, however, is displayed for the media cameras in a case in which the farce continued right through the trial. 

Hutcherson kidnap (police re-enactment!)

John McCleary and his brother James were found guilty of the kidnap of American Mark Hutcherson, who was described as an American oil company executive, and sentenced to 18 years.

The three cops (in white) led by Lt. Colonel Thanapong Bunnag (on the left in pink-peaked baseball hat) were given sentences of 12 years.

The person in the black hoodie handcuffed to McCleary is ‘Dam’ the motorcycle driver who brought the meals to the kidnap address.

Mark Hutcherson was, of course, not an oil man but well-known boiler room fraudster and partner of Briton Paul Hayward, from Birmingham, the man who bought the master lease for Thailand’s busiest sex bar area ‘Nana Plaza’.



Lt. Col. Bunnag, worked for the Thai Immigration police and the others worked for the Crime Suppression Division and Metropolitan Police. The Bunnags by the way are one of the old traditional and very wealthy families of Thailand.

The McCleary brothers insist they were innocent, but were set up by Paul Hayward, to take the wrap along with police.

“I never met my alleged co-conspirators before,” said John McCleary.

extract from prison letter from John McCleary


The McCleary brothers did work for Hayward.

They worked for him in other boiler rooms first with Danny Sterk and Robert Casciola in the International Management Group out of Q House in Convent Road, Bangkok, and with boiler rooms set up yogether by Hutcherson and Hayward, known as ‘Hutch’ and ‘Little Hutch’.

One of their scam companies called ‘Jackson Cole’ had a ‘serviced office’ in Brussels and it took Britons for millions.

However, the McCleary brothers fell out ‘big time’ with their former bosses, after, they claim, Hayward himself was kidnapped by Thai police and ended up paying the best part of US$1 million.

In the Hutcherson kidnap only US$400,000 had been paid off before other Thai police, alerted by the US Embassy, made the arrests.

The Nation newspaper report. There is no record of any convictions in the U.S. for the McCleary bros.

Prior to the kidnap John McCleary said he had been expecting to be

set up on drugs charges, which is what had happened to another boiler room ‘traitor’ Stephen Sharpe (left), who was finally discharged in the Philippines after an investigation by the Philippines Commission for Human Rights – but not before he had spent three years in jail on remand.

Sharpe, aka, Burt, had gone to police with a report on Hayward called ‘The Painted Picture’ detailing the Birmingham wheeler dealer’s activities.


Paul Hayward

The McCleary brothers were arrested six days later after registering the births of children in Thailand at the U.S, Embassy. They claim U.S. officials having been tipped off by boiler room operators, then tipped off the Thai authorities.

The McCleary brothers were released in late 2016 and have vowed vengeance. John McCleary claims to have video of Hayward administrating a boiler room, and of course when they left the employ of Hayward they took with them a lot of documents.

Mark Hutcherson, pictured below raising his ‘pinky’ in better times,  died in a shooting incident later in Plano, Texas. Police said no foul play was suspected.