Battered family will 'never return' to Thailand
A British man who was brutally beaten along with his family while on holiday in Thailand has vowed never to return to the country after the horrifying ordeal, a British newspaper reports.
On Thursday, Lewis Owen told the Daily Mirror newspaper in the UK that he and his parents will never come back to Thailand.
"We were all unconscious," Mr Owen told the newspaper. "My mum did not even realise she had been kicked in the face. I did not know my head had been stamped on."
He said he and his family didn't realise the brutality of the attack until they saw the video days later.
Mr Owen said his father suffered two black eyes and received six stitches to his forehead. He had 16 stitches on his head in three areas while his mother suffered fluid on the brain that needed draining.
"I'm not going back to Thailand again. Mum and Dad won't be either. Never, ever again," he told the newspaper.
Lewis Owen, his mother Rosemary, 65, and 68-year-old father, also called Lewis, were out celebrating Lewis senior's birthday in Hua Hin district of Prachuap Khiri Khan when they were set upon by a group of Thai men.
Police refused to show the family CCTV footage of the shocking attack, which happened as the family made their way home after visiting a bar because it was "too violent".
The video was later posted online by officers in a bid to trace the suspects. Police later arrested four Thais.
Police have finished their investigations, deputy national police chief Wuthi Liptapallop on Friday told the Bangkok Post.
He said the case was "not complicated" due to the suspects' confessions, the surveillance-camera footage featuring the attack, and witnesses. Police will wrap up the case and forward it to prosecutors as quickly as possible, he said.
Pol Gen Wuthi was speaking at Hua Hin police station where he questioned Chaiya Jaiboon, 20, the fourth and final suspect who was arrested at his home in Pran Buri district on Thursday.
The inquiry was also observed by both Thai and overseas media outlets as the case has attracted huge attention both in Thailand and abroad.
Mr Chaiya admitted he and his three friends were drunk after drinking beer before the attack. He said he thought one of the tourists had hit one of his friends first.
The suspect also performed a traditional wai gesture and apologised to the people of Hua Hin and Thailand and to the British family's relatives, saying he regretted what he had done.
The three other suspects were Suphattha Baithong and Yingyai Saengkhamin, both aged 32, and Siva Noksri, 20. All were arrested on April 16 and apologised to the victims.
Pol Gen Wuthi said the four suspects have been charged with colluding in physical assault which caused serious injuries to others under Section 297 of the Criminal Code. The suspects could face up to 10 years in prison.
The arrests took place after Hua Hin police found footage on April 14 that showed three people lying unconscious after being assaulted during Songkran festivities on Soi Bintabaht in Hua Hin district early on April 13.
The brutal attack captured by a Hua Hin municipality security camera went viral on social media on Thursday.
The family did not lodge a complaint with police. Lewis Owen Jr later flew back to the UK while his father took care of his wife, who is recovering at a hotel with serious head and eye trauma.
In the clip, the family is seen walking in front of Wat Hua Hin in Soi Bintabaht about 1.30am on April 13 amid Thai New Year festivities.
An altercation broke out after the son apparently accidentally bumped into Mr Suphattha. Footage shows Mr Suphattha pushing Mr Owen to the ground.
His parents intervened to prevent Mr Suphattha from beating up their son. However, Mr Suphattha and his friends punched all three in the face, kicked their bodies and stomped on their faces.
The attack lasted about two minutes.
Pol Gen Wuthi instructed police to prevent such incidents from recurring in all tourist destinations, especially Hua Hin, an important attraction.
He, however, admitted that officer numbers were limited in tourist resorts and that he would propose more deployments.
Charoen Wangananont, president of Thai Travel Agents Association, said the government should intensify security measures in tourist spots nationwide as the number of officers was not sufficient to provide safety for travellers.
He said the latest attack resulted from insufficient personnel.
- Hua Hin