Teen machete antics, frenzied shooter, tarp bridge tragedy

Lt Prayut Chai-in stages a crime re-enactment.

Drunken boy runs amok

A Nakhon Sawan boy who swung a machete at a passing motorcyclist, killing her, insists he meant to hit the young woman, denying reports that he threw the object at random.

Phaisali police last week arrested schoolboy "Pao", 16, for the brutal attack on Suwanan "Bow" Phaemai, 22 on Phaisali-Tha Tako Road on March 18.

She was passing on a motorcycle when the teen, drunk and eager to impress a group of 13 friends, stepped out from the crowd and took a swing at her with a machete.

He had gathered at the roadside with the group, who parked their 10 motorcycles nearby. They had just attended a Chinese opera show in Phaisali district, as had the victim herself, though they did not know each other.

As she was heading home, Bow spotted the teens gathered in the distance and sped up, hoping to avoid trouble, her pillion passenger Cha, 17, said.

However, Pao stepped from the side of the road and took a swing at her before she could react. His machete struck her right shoulder and almost severed her arm, media reports say.

Bow did not stop despite her injuries, but with Cha's help controlling the vehicle struggled on to a police booth 4km away where they hoped to seek help.

However, they found the booth unstaffed, as police were ironically keeping order at the Chinese opera show. Rescue workers were called but she died on the way to hospital.

Cha, 17, riding behind Bow, says she saw the suspect step out from the side of the road and swing at her. Media reports said he was taking wild lunges with the weapon at anyone who passed by, with some saying he threw the object.

Pao, however, denied throwing it, saying he meant to hit Bow. "I was drunk and got carried away," he told police. A drug test turned up negative.

Recounting the attack, Cha said: "Bow told me she had been hit but at first didn't feel anything. It was numb. But I could see blood seeping through her shirt so I leaned over and took over control of the bike. However, she died shortly after."

Police quickly rounded up the teens, who had fled the scene after Pao's attack.

Witnesses say many in the group cheered him on, though one of the lads supposedly challenged him, demanding to know why he had hit her. Police are now treating him as a witness in the case, though none of the other teens face charges, as police believe Pao acted alone.

Media attention turned to the young man's background. Pao lives with his grandmother, reports said, after his parents split up when he was young. His father works in Taiwan, and his mother has started a new family.

He was fond of going out late at night, though relatives where he lives in Tha Tako district, where the lad also goes to school, said they were shocked to hear he would do such a thing.

Relatives who gathered for Bow's funeral at Plong Pot temple, in Sai Lamphong district, said they could not understand the brutality of the attack.

Pao shows the machete that he swung at a passing motorcyclist.

Chai Lertiam, 52, her grandfather, said he would not forgive the killer.

Her father, Plachan Daopeng, 51, said the suspect's relatives had contacted him asking if they could apologise to Bow's spirit, but he wouldn't let them attend.

Kalaya, 47, her mother, said she and Bow, her only daughter, were inseparable. The pair now live in Khao Yai, Nakhon Ratchasima, where Ms Kalaya works and Bow helps out, she said.

"On March 5, Bow travelled back to Tha Tako to attend a friend's birthday. I came with her though I had to return to work shortly after. Later I heard the news that she had been killed," she said.

Phaisali police charged Pao with murder with intent and sent him to the juvenile and family court for processing.

That's all it took

An army weapons specialist in Lop Buri who killed a motorist in a frenzied attack said he and the victim had argued over a minor traffic scrape months before.

A team of 20 police from the provincial station, Muang police, and commandos last week arrested Lt Prayut Chai-in, 58, on Erawan-Khao Nip Road, Muang district, following the March 13 attack in which he shot his victim, sitting in his Toyota pickup, 14 times.

Lt Prayut, who went into hiding at his wife's place following the slaying, said his victim, Akaradej Ekk Srisa-at, 52, a messenger, had insulted his dignity since the two met in December last year.

A vehicle driven by Lt Prayut's wife hit Akaradej's vehicle, driven by his own wife. The accident took place in front of the PT station in the Sang Ton Eng industrial estate on Dec 15.

Both sides filed a complaint at Muang police station, but the dispute did not end there.

"My wife had no insurance, so we were having to pay the other side's compensation. We were haggling over the price, but Akaradej kept baiting me, making sarcastic jibes as he was the one with the advantage over us. My anger and desire for revenge were building up," Lt Prayut told police.

"On the day of the attack he drove past my place as if to taunt me, so I decided to follow him. I caught up with Akaradej as he was parked by the side of the road talking to a customer. I parked behind him, walked over to the driver's side and opened fire."

Lt Prayut later took shelter at his wife's place in the estate, though hid his 9mm calibre handgun in the army camp where he works. News reports said Lt Prayut was a weapons expert, based at an unnamed army camp in Khao Sam Yot, Muang district. That district is home to the army's Weapon Production Centre, based at Jirawichit Songkhram Camp.

Reporters were barred access as police entered the army camp with the suspect, following his arrest, to retrieve his weapon. They also seized his Honda motorcycle on which he followed the victim.

As part of the crime scene reconstruction, police took the accused to Akaradej's pickup, now parked in front of their station. Lt Prayut lit a joss stick, knelt down and begged his victim's forgiveness.

A witness said the suspect, wearing camouflage gear, stood next to the vehicle and shot at the occupant in rapid fire before fleeing. Police charged Lt Prayut with murder with intent.

right and above A turnoff on Rama III Bridge where a motorcyclist hit the edge and toppled over, probably after running into the tarp.

Stray tarp threat

A stray tarpaulin is being blamed for the death of a motorcyclist, who fell from a city bridge to a road 6-7 metres below.

On March 20 a young woman, aged 25-30, hit the edge of a turnoff on Rama III Bridge (New Krungthep Bridge) in the Wong Wian Yai area and toppled over to the road below.

Khao Sod newspaper said the woman, unnamed in news reports, died later from her injuries, which included a broken arm and leg.

Bukkhalo police found her motorcycle overturned on its side on the turnoff above, next to a blue and white tarpaulin or "slant", the type which traders typically use to shelter the side of their shops from the sun.

They say it may have come off the back of a truck and hit the victim as she was driving, obscuring her vision before she hit the side. Alternately, she skidded on the tarp, lost her balance and hit the edge of the turnoff before falling over. The turnoff heads down to Taksin Road and the Wong Wian Yai area.

Media reports say traders were shocked to see the woman's body land in front of their roadside shops below. Police are appealing to witnesses to come forward.

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