While Thailand’s military government claims to be on a crusade against corruption, and a lot of Thai people have swallowed this hook line and sinker, Brits in Thailand continue to suffer thanks to the country’s ambivalent attitude to so called foreign criminals.
In June British police were delighted at the arrest of Mark Hallett, from Somerset, a Briton they wanted in connection with a £3.9 million Ponzi fraud. Hallett’s arrest made the press back home.
The Avon and Somerset Constabulary were in dialogue with Thai Immigration Police and notified them of their interest and no doubt were probably hoping he would be put on the next plane home.
Hallett, who was first exposed on this site in a story headed ‘The Sophisticated Berks of Bangkok’ had after all been arrested on visa irregularities – and Thai Immigration police normally deal with that by locking the offenders up in the rather foul IDC (Immigration Detention Centre) until they produce the cash for a one-way trip home.
The IDC experience is usually enough to convince westerners to find the cash and get home as soon as possible.
Alas Hallett, who in Thailand promoted an escort service and also sought investment in some new ‘sure fire’ projects upsetting a few investors, quickly disappeared.
Avon and Somerset Constabulary duly contacted the Thai authorities only to be told, they admitted yesterday, that Hallett has been released on bail on immigration the charges.
This is invariably a sign that the villain of the peace has negotiated his way out of his problems.
Heaven forbid that the Thai Immigration Police should still be taking bribes.
Their chief, Pol Lt-Gen Sakda Choenpakdee, was warned against this by the last Thai Police Chief – Police General Somyot Poompanmuang – who claimed that Immigration officers were making at least 1.8 million baht a day at Bangkok’s airports. Police General Somyot of course left office himself having become a very rich man with declared assets of US$11.5 million.
However, people who are allowed to fight immigration cases are either those of great influence or a lot of cash. So those in Britian who have allegedly been swindled by Hallett will not be getting much satisfaction.
British Police of course famously came to the defence of their Thai police colleagues when they backed what we now know was a shambolic Thai police investigation into the murders of Britons Hannah Witheridge.
The lawyers defending two young Burmese convicted on some very dodgy DNA evidence did not expect the report to be in favour of their client. On the contrary they expected it to be negative because Scotland Yard made no investigations and relied totally on what they were told, through an interpreter, by the Thai police.
The value to the defence of the British police report was in the alleged ‘set up’ of their clients.
Scotland Yard raised the ‘chilling effects’ defence. To release the report could not only jeopardise ‘national security’ it would also betray British police relations with Thai police.
Justice Green allowed the chilling effects defence but he expressed concern stating.
“I feel considerable unease. I sit a long way from the seat of the trial and do not have a true hands-on feeling for the way evidence has been tendered by the prosecution or the main lines of defence.”
That scenario of Thai police taking umbrage is of course unlikely. Police memory in Thailand tends to extent only as far as the next cheque.
And Scotland Yard’s role could come under further questioning if the issue of DNA profiling is taken to the Bureau of Laboratory Quality Standards an almost inevitable action if the two Burmese Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo are not acquitted on appeal.
When the Economist ran a story in 2008 stating: “In Thailand’s most sensational crimes the prime suspects are often the police,” – it was by no means wide of the mark.
If the release of Mark Hallet was not enough, some Britons and expats of other nationalities are worried about the activities on Thailand’s eastern seaboard of a father and son team from Essex, who have entered into the property and car rental business, apparently to the detriment of some of their clients.
They are John Leslie Milbourn, 58, and his son Alexander Milbourn who have been hawking property on Pattaya’s ‘dark side’ – the area west of the Sukhumvit Road, who have been accused on ‘consumer complaint’ websites of dodgy dealing.
The father John Leslie Milbourn is reportedly connected to British gangster ‘Eddie Blundell’. Blundell has a biography out called ‘Top Drawer Villain’ though if by that the author means that Eddie was in any way ‘upper crust’ – rest assured he was not.
Eddie, also known as ‘King Cone’ was the head of ‘Piccadilly Whip’ in London which entered into an ice cream war with all comers. Rivals took a beating if they did not clear out of the west end.
Here’s a video of one of his alleged henchmen taken from ‘The London Programme’.
But enough. I do not wish to be accused of pinning guilt by association on the Milbourns. It’s not a crime to have known Eddie Blundell.
But take a look at this.
Alexander Milbourn was the subject of a high profile arrest in 2012 when he and Shaun Edward Tracy, 34, were caught on video attempting to drive away with a number of ATM bank machines in the Chonburi area.
They had used a heavy commercial nylon sling and Milbourn senior’s truck to dry and drag the ATMs from their mountings. Not surprisingly the actions were caught on CCTV.
This story of British crooks was widely covered in Thailand, after the Thai police gave a press conference. So it is of concern to many that Alexander is out on bail now to create more problems.
John Lesley Milbourn, senior, I should point out was out of the country at the time of the attempted heists.
Here is one of the ‘gaffs’ they are selling or renting. It’s called Brentwood Manor.
Its variously out on the net for ‘rent’ or sale at Bt15 million. Some due diligence is in order here as in all property buying or letting in Thailand.
So why are Thai police letting British criminals go? The official answer of course that every accused person in Thailand is entitled to bail before trial. However, Thailand does not assume innocence – hence all those press conferences with criminals with arresting officers lined up behind them.
It’s an economic thing. Foreign police still need to join a queue and be very sweet to get their men.
More of this to come.