Phuket murder: 300 baht unpaid drinks bill the motive

Michelle Smith, a 59-year-old travel agent from Perth, died because her confessed killer needed 300 baht to pay for alcoholic drinks, the young man said yesterday.

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Surasak Suwannachote (centre) and Surin Thatthong (right) re-enact the bag-snatching incident in Phuket yesterday. The inset is the police sketch made of Surasak before he was arrested. ACHADTAYA CHUENNIRAN

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Phuket murder: 300 baht unpaid drinks bill the motive

Surasak Suwannachote and Surin Thatthong who have confessed to the bag-snatching incident in Phuket which left one Australian dead and one injured are back in a familiar place: jail.

Deputy national police chief Pansiri Prapawat said yesterday Mr Surin had served four previous jail sentences for theft and drug offences, while Mr Surasak had also served prison terms before for drug offences.

Thus, when Mr Surasak needed 300 baht to pay an alcoholic drinks bill, stealing it seemed the natural solution.

Surasak, 26, a native of Nakhon Si Thammarat's Chian Yai district, told reporters he stabbed Michelle Smith, a 59-year-old travel agent from Perth, and her 42-year-old friend Lynn Tammee Lee, also an Australian, after trying to snatch Smith's handbag on June 20.

Police said he was a pillion rider on a motorcycle driven by his accomplice Surin Thatthong.

"I admit I committed the crime. But my intention was only to cut the strap of the victim's handbag because I needed 300 baht to pay for alcoholic drinks I owed. I had no intention of killing her," Mr Surasak said.

Mr Surasak was arrested at Tha Sae district of Chumphon province on Monday, while Mr Surin was caught in his native Ban Phaeo district of Samut Sakhon on the same day.

Mr Surin told reporters he drove the motorcycle which was used to carry out the crime.

Some of Surasak's clothes and a knife similar to the one allegedly used in the attack. ACHADTAYA CHUENNIRAN

Police recovered what they say are the killer's clothes, as well as a knife and a purple Honda motorbike used in the attack, near workers' accommodation on a bypass road in Phuket's Muang district.

The suspect added he initially did not think the woman would die because he saw her and Ms Lee walk away to seek help after the attack.

He found out the woman died later while he was watching television. He then fled the province.

Adapted from a story in today's Bangkok Post by Achadtaya Chuenniran.

crime ทำแผนประกอบคำรับสารภาพ
snatch – to take or get something quickly คว้า, ดึง
incident – something that happens, usually something bad เหตุการณ์
inset – a small picture, map, etc. inside a larger one ภาพเล็กๆ ที่ใช้ประกอบภาพใหญ่,
sketch – a simple picture that is drawn quickly and does not have many details ภาพร่าง
arrested – caught by the police and taken to a police station because you are believed to have committed a crime ถูกจับกุม
murder – the crime of intentionally killing a person ฆาตกรรม
motive – the reason that you do something แรงจูงใจ
confess – to admit that you have committed a crime  สารภาพผิด
injured – hurt in an accident or attack ซึ่งได้รับบาดเจ็บ
familiar – well known to you, or easily recognised by you คุ้นเคย
deputy – a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง
sentence – a punishment given by a court of law การตัดสินลงโทษ
theft – (the act of) dishonestly taking something which belongs to someone else and keeping it การลักขโมย
offence – a crime or illegal activity for which there is a punishment  การกระทำผิดกฎหมาย
prison term – the length of time a person is required to spend in jail
steal – to take something from a person, shop/store, etc. without permission and without intending to return it or pay for it ขโมย
natural – normal; as you would expect ตามธรรมชาติ
solution – a way of solving a problem or dealing with a difficult situation  วิธีแก้ปัญหา
native – someone who was born in a particular place ชาวพื้นเมือง
reporter – someone whose job is to write articles or make broadcasts about events in the news ผู้สื่อข่าว, นักข่าว
stab – to kill or hurt someone by pushing a knife or other sharp object into their body แทงด้วยอาวุธ
pillion rider – a person who rides behind the driver of a motorcycle  ผู้ที่นั่งบนเบาะนั่งซ้อนท้าย (รถจักรยานยนต์, จักรยาน)
accomplice – a person who helps someone else to commit a crime or to do something morally wrong ผู้สมรู้ร่วมคิด
admit – to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it  ยอมรับ
commit – to do something wrong or illegal ทำความผิด
intention – a plan in your mind to do something ความตั้งใจ เจตนา
strap – a strip of leather, cloth or other material that is used to fasten something, keep something in place, carry something or hold onto something   สายหนัง, สายรัด, สายหิ้ว
victim – someone who has been harmed, injured or killed as the result of a crime เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
owe – to be required to give someone money for something you have bought or money that you have borrowed from them เป็นหนี้
allegedly – claimed, but not yet proven ที่กล่าวหา
recover – to get something back that has been lost or stolen ได้กลับคืนมา
accommodation – a place for someone to stay, live, or work ที่พัก
bypass – a road that goes round a town or city so that you can avoid going through its centre ถนนรอบเมือง
suspect – a person who is thought to have committed a crime ผู้ต้องสงสัย
initially – at first ในเบื้องต้น
fled (past of flee) – escaped; left an area very quickly because of a danger there หนีไป

Related search: Phuket murder, Michelle Smith

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Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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