Cocaine charge against fugitive Red Bull scion has lapsed

Cocaine charge against fugitive Red Bull scion has lapsed

Vorayuth Yoovidhya arrives at Thong Lor police station for interrogation in early September 2012. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Vorayuth Yoovidhya arrives at Thong Lor police station for interrogation in early September 2012. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The charge of cocaine abuse brought against Red Bull heir Vorayuth "Boss" Yoovidhya during the high-profile hit-and-run case in 2012 has now lapsed because the statute of limitations has expired under recent changes to narcotics offences laws, Office of the Attorney General spokesman Prayut Petcharakhun said on Tuesday.

Mr Prayut said Mr Vorayuth was charged with cocaine abuse in addition to reckless driving causing death by a panel of prosecutors set up to review the case in August 2020. It was chaired by Itthiporn Kaewthip, director-general of the Office of Criminal Prosecution. Mr Prayut was the panel's secretary.

A court warrant was then issued for his arrest under the Narcotics Act of 1979, of which Section 58 prohibited use of cocaine. A violator was liable to a jail term of six months to three years and the statute of limitations was 10 years.

In Mr Vorayuth's case, the statute of limitations on the cocaine charge was originally to expire on Sept 3, 2022.

But when new narcotics laws took effect from Dec 9, 2021, the Narcotics Act of 1979 was cancelled. Under Section 162 of the new law, which also prohibits use of cocaine, a violator is liable to a jail term of up to one year and the statute of limitations is five years.

As a consequence, the charge of cocaine abuse against Mr Vorayuth has automatically lapsed.

The only remaining charge against Mr Vorayuth now is reckless driving causing death under Section 291 of the Criminal Code, which carries a penalty of up to 10 years in jail and the statute of limitations is 15 years.

The statute of limitations on the reckless driving charge is due to expire on Sept 3, 2027.

Mr Vorayuth, then 27, was driving a black Ferrari that hit a motorcycle driven by Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wichian Klanprasert, 47, and killed him in the early morning of Sept 3, 2012.

He crashed into the rear of the police motorcycle on Sukhumvit Road. He then fled the scene to his home nearby.

He, through his lawyers, put off hearing charges seven times. It was not until April 27, 2017, that prosecutors finally charged him with reckless driving causing death and failing to stop and help a crash victim.

He fled on a private plane two days before he was due to face the charges.

A speeding charge was later dropped when the one-year statute of limitations expired. The charge of failing to stop and render assistance expired on Sept 3, 2017.

Mr Vorayuth has been seen many times overseas attending high profile sporting events. Red Bull has an F1 racing team. Thai authorities are unable to find him.


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