Time to hire a hitman
The mother of a violent druggie in Loei province admits arranging for a hitman to kill her son, as she was fed up with his constant attacks.
Kaew Phothong, 57, gave herself up to Chiang Kan police last week after her son, tattoo-clad Weerapan Pothong, 31, was shot dead outside his house.
The gunman shot him once with a 12 gauge shotgun pistol before fleeing under cover of darkness. The victim didn't see it coming, as he was sitting facing towards the house firing up a wood stove at the time.
Shortly after, his mother, Ms Kaew, accompanied by her elder brother and uncle of the victim, Sarn Phothong, 65, who hired the gunman, and Somsa Saenjaiwut, 64, the man he hired, handed themselves in to police. They felt guilty about what they had done so decided to come forward, reports said.
Weerapan attacked his mother so often that she was forced to flee home and had nowhere reliable where she could live, she told police. "I had to move about constantly, because wherever I moved, he would follow and ask for money. If I refused he would go berserk, smashing up my belongings and assaulting me," she said.
Ms Kaew says she consulted her brother, who agreed to hire a gunman to finish him off. They paid the gunman, who was known to the couple, 25,000 baht for the job. However, after doing the deed they felt guilty, so contacted the police.
Chatuphat Singchum, 26, the victim's ex-wife who visited Weerapan's mother at the station following her arrest, said she too was a victim of Weerapan's violent behaviour.
"Weerapan's Mum told me she had kept a lid on her fears for a long time, but finally reached breaking point," she said.
Ms Chatuphat said she was together with Weerapan for 5-6 years. They have two children but split up a year ago, because lately he had been going berserk and hitting her, just as he did his Mum.
He was psychologically ill and heard things, she said. He had been treated at a psychiatric hospital twice, to no avail.
"He was a heavy drug user, which sent him mad," she said. The three suspects were charged jointly in his premeditated murder.
Down the stairs we go
Police retrace the youngsters' steps at the condo.
Police are sceptical about claims that a motorcycle delivery guy in Bangkok accidentally took his own life, playing with a friend's gun at a city condo.
Three youngsters who met victim Veem "Mo" Samutkham, 20, for a ketamine party at a Bangkok Noi condo claim he picked up the room owner's .38 revolver, played with it, and accidentally shot himself in the head.
A tenant called police to the scene, where they found the three friends present at the time of the shooting had dragged the victim's body from the fifth floor where the incident occurred down to the first floor.
They did not immediately call for help but took his body down the stairs, supposedly so he could be taken to hospital. However, he died later from his injuries.
Police charged the room owner, identified as Khomkrit, 22, with firearms offences and carelessness causing death. The other two, Athit, 22, and Natthida, 21, were charged with firearms offences.
Police are awaiting tests for gunpowder residue on the trio's hands and drugs in their system, and say the list of charges could grow. Officers asked the court to detain them further as the probe continues.
A rescue worker who lives in the building, Anirut, said a neighbour saw the youngsters dragging the body down the stairs and alerted him. He went to ask if he could help.
Anirut said: "I asked one of them what happened. At first, he did not reply, so I pressed the point and he said: 'We warned him not to play with the gun.' "
Initially, the group claimed the gun belonged to the victim, only to change their story later. The owner, Khomkrit, admitted the weapon was his, reports said.
The victim's mother, Thaworn, 59, said she didn't know her son had been to see friends that night, as he had moved out to live with his girlfriend some time ago. However, he was a timorous type and did not carry or own a firearm.
"He only has to argue with his girlfriend and he cries. But even if he did shoot himself as they claim, why did they drag his body down the stairs?" she asked reporters.
"My son also had bruising under one eye when his body was found, which makes me suspicious."
Khomkrit's mother, 45, unnamed in reports, said her son denied the group had argued with the victim.
"He says they have known each other for ages, and they tried to help him after he shot himself," she said.
The group wanted to apologise to the victim's body but were afraid his family would not welcome them at the funeral. The case continues.
Granny can't cope alone
The concrete beam where the boy was chained.
A nine-year-old boy in Khon Kaen has been separated from his grandmother after she was found dragging him about the street in chains.
A local last week alerted the Pen Neung Foundation after seeing the child, Nong Pond, being led by his grandmother on chains in Nam Yuen district as they picked up old bottles for resale.
Adam Pathan said he witnessed the disturbing scene as he was visiting a car repair shop.
"As I was standing behind my pickup I could hear the old woman arguing with the child. I saw her whip the lad with the chain. The boy was so scared he wet himself and cried. She carried on hitting him until they were almost back home," he told reporters.
Mr Adam decided he should step in. "I walked over there, took the child's hand and led him back to the shop. I found some pliers and cut the chains from his wrist. The kid was still terrified," he told reporters.
The grandmother walked back and started abusing Mr Adam for interfering. "She accused me of taking drugs and said she'd report me for taking the kid away," he said.
Mr Adam contacted the foundation, which has sent Nong Pond to a children's home.
The old woman, he said, was leading the boy around like a dog and treating him cruelly. Anyone who saw it would be horrified.
"I asked the child whether he wanted to go home and he said he didn't. He said his grandmother beats him and abuses him regularly," he said.
Reporters spoke to the old woman, Jumthong, 66, who said she has raised the child alone since he was born. His parents had broken up. His mother was taking drugs during her pregnancy and is now in jail.
"The child likes getting out at night so I chain his arms and legs to a concrete pole inside the house," she said. "I release him if he needs to relieve himself."
She also chains him up to make sure he does his schoolwork. Mrs Jumthong said she sends the child to school every day and claims she bought the chains only the day before the pair were spotted by Mr Adam.
Nong Pond said his grandmother hits him with pieces of wood and whips him with the chain.
Welfare workers say they spotted sores on his arms and say he looked thin for his age, though his grandmother says he has asthma and was born prematurely, so is frail and weak.
Village head Mannerat Kamnoothai, 50, said she visits the house regularly as Mrs Jumthong has psychiatric problems. She also suffers from diabetes and high blood pressure.
While she did not know about the chains, she had previously heard Mrs Jumthong say she wanted to buy a rope and tie the boy up. She advised against it.
The child's fate has yet to be decided, and no details were available on any punishment to be meted out to Mrs Jumthong.