Beaten British family heads home, won't be back

Beaten British family heads home, won't be back

Escorted into court to testify on Monday were Lewis Owen, 68, left, and Rosemary Owen, still showing the black eye from being punched in the face on April 13. (Photos by Chanat Katanyu)
Escorted into court to testify on Monday were Lewis Owen, 68, left, and Rosemary Owen, still showing the black eye from being punched in the face on April 13. (Photos by Chanat Katanyu)

HUA HIN — The elderly British couple, who along with their son suffered a brutal attack by four Thai men, will leave for England today, insisting they will never return to Thailand but maintain they still love its people.

The family, who were the victims of a vicious, unprovoked attack that was captured on a video that went viral, finished testifying before the Hua Hin Provincial Court Monday.

Rosemary Owen, 68, said even though she still has nightmares about the incident, she still loves Thai people as they are not all bad.

"I still have nightmares about the things that happened to me and my family. I stayed in the hospital for three days; my husband and son were in for two days. The doctor showed me the thing he took out of my swollen head -- it's terrible.

"The attack scared me and I do not want to come back to Thailand again. But I still love Thai people. What I dislike is the bad guys,'' she said.

Mrs Owen and her husband Lewis Owen, 68, were accompanied to court Monday by Hua Hin police, British embassy staff and Thai friends during their appearance at the Hua Hin Provincial Court in Prachuap Khiri Khan province.

The couple spent more than two hours giving their accounts to the court before leaving Hua Hin for Bangkok Monday evening. They will leave Bangkok for London around noon today.

No journalists were allowed to sit in the courtroom to hear the couple's accounts and no court statement describing what they said was issued. Police also stopped photographers getting too close to take their picture.

The Owens and their son Lewis, 43, were treated for serious head and brain injuries. The three had been assaulted by four men after Lewis accidentally bumped into one of them on Soi Bintabaht, a Hua Hin bar hub on April 13.

Four men were caught and confessed to carrying out the assaults in the soi before footage of the attack was leaked and shared online. The defendants claimed they were drunk when they attacked the family, who were left on the road unconscious.

Mrs Owen said she was happy she would be returning to see her family again as it has been four weeks since she last saw them.

She appeared in good shape with no sign of swelling, though had a small stitch on her forehead along with a small bandage. She said she had a minor headache that will need to be looked at when she returns home.

Mrs Owen said her family was lucky that her Thai friends have been helping them out since the attack, adding it would have been a terrible experience had they stayed in the hospital alone without any assistance.

A local family friend said the Owens come to Thailand every year to celebrate a birthday which falls during the Songkran festival.

They have been making the visit to Hua Hin for 20 years because they love the place and its people, the friend said.

However, he was deeply saddened that the family will not be coming back, adding that Hua Hin's residents are still reeling from the incident and angry with the thugs.

He said the case has been a blight on a city otherwise known as a safe place for tourists. Before arriving at the court, the couple was paid a visit by Prime Minister's Office Minister ML Panadda Diskul at Bangkok Hua Hin Hospital.

ML Panadda gave a garland of flowers to them as a gesture of goodwill and moral support.

ML Panadda said the family told him such an assault could happen anywhere in the world and the attack should not besmirch the character of the nation.

"They are not angry with the Thai people and they do not hate the Thai people,'' ML Panadda said.

Prachuap Khiri Khan governor Thawee Narissirikul said he has ordered authorities to boost safety for both Thai and foreign visitors in all tourist attractions.

Mr Thawee said he told police to be stricter in controlling the closing times of nightspots and alcohol sales.

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