Feckless Briton deported from Thailand

In Flying Sporran, General News, Uncategorised by Andrew Drummond38 Comments

July 29 2011
Sunday Mirror (a very odd edit)

A British computer engineer, who was left to languish in a Thai jail, naked, emaciated, chained to the bars and close to death after suffering a mental breakdown, was deported to Britain early today (SAT).

Richard Hewitt, 49, had been arrested wandering incoherently in the Thai resort of Pattaya last November after falling victim to its offerings of sex, drugs, and alcohol. He said before his departure that he had been asked by British Embassy officials not to talk to the media about his plight.

One of those who found him said it looked like he had been ‘left to die’. But the Foreign Office said he had been afforded full ‘consular assistance’.

On taking up his post as the new Ambassador to Thailand Asif Ahmad announced that more funds were available for Britons in trouble abroad. But that may not include what he described as ‘feckless Brits’. The Embassy has not confirmed Hewitt fitted that category.
But they may have been given false information about his background.

Hewitt, in his punk days a guitarist with ‘Isobell Barnett and the Shoplifters’ had been chained for two weeks without even being brought to court. What food he had was consumed by other inmates who had also attacked him. But he did not care, as he admitted later, he has long since lost any grasp on reality.

After (but not necessarily as a result of) a furor on expatriate forums in Thailand caused by publication of the pictures of Hewitt on www.andrew.local the British Embassy sent its Honorary Consul in Pattaya, Howard Miller, back to the police station.

But Hewitt had already been saved by a British expatriate charity worker Tracy Cosgrove, of the Melissa Cosgrove Foundation, who had rushed to the police station as soon as she heard the news and had Hewitt washed, dressed, fed and clothed and arranged for him to be sent to a psychiatric hospital.

Hewitt made a recovery within two weeks. He had suffered a mental breakdown after his over-indulgence.

When he recovered it turned out that Hewitt, a graduate in computer engineering from Sheffield University, was well off, having come into an inheritance from his father. The inheritance he admits was part of his problem.

An unofficial part of his punishment was that he had to survive and support himself for eight months in Thailand in the country’s antiquated legal system on a charge of overstaying his visa.  Fortunately he was allowed bail. Two weeks ago he was fined the equivalent of £50 and ordered to be deported.

Of his experience Hewitt said: ‘All I can remember is dreaming that I was on the train to hell. I remember telling police that I wanted to get off and travel through the land of the dead first.  When I got to the hospital I was glad because I thought they had kept their promise. Now I realize Tracy saved my life.’

‘The British Embassy has sent me a message through my lawyer not to talk about the case.’

Benny Moafi, who campaigns on behalf of prisoners in Thai jails and who found and took the pictures of Hewitt said: ‘In my opinion he was being left to die and certainly would have had he not been taken care of. He was hallucinating when I saw him and – just a skeleton.’

Said Tracey Cosgrove, well known for her charity work in Thailand and Burma: ‘It’s good to see Richard going home at last to see him mum. But he should have been sent home a long time ago.’


  1. Nicky

    Well it’s great to see he has gone now also what an awful ordeal this guy been through I’m surprised it's taken this long really? I would think with how much money we throw about in other peoples wars and how many refugees we allow into the United Kingdom who also clam benefits? It’s a shame we can’t take care of our own when there is problems abroad… I’m sure it only cost around £ 300 for a one way ticket back to the United Kingdom and around £ 100 for an emergency passport… I would think that would be a agreeably but stuff like hospital frees and lawyers’ fees are a no go but if you go down this route you would have to hand over your passport that’s if you had one and blocked from applying for a new one until you have paid back the Foreign office ? I would also like to know what more funding are going to be offered as its states that more funds were available for Britons in trouble abroad. I’ve also been doing some resource into this and only see prisoner’s abroad charity doing more than what the British Embassy in Bangkok doing now … By the way Thanks for the story Andrew and Thanks to Tracy for helping this poor guy out ? We are not all cold hearted people who live here in Thailand .. Also the people who say its serve him right need to wake up and think this could happen to anybody even yourself ..


  2. Michael

    I hope the Sunday Mirror pays you according to your original story's word count and not their version's…

  3. John

    Feckless indeed. There are a fair few foreign individuals who fit this description living here. (Edited)

  4. Andrew

    Michael:If I got paid by the word I would have retired in poverty a long time ago. If I got paid for edits that make me look a complete twit then I would have my own home in Beverley Hills or perhaps somewhere nicer.

  5. Harry B

    What's with the Embassy telling him not to talk about it? They got something to hide? If I were him I'd tell them to swivel and make sure the story gets out as far and as wide as possible.

  6. Clive

    My real concern is that ANYONE should be left in a Jail in this condition. How many Thai and other nationals are left in this sort of state. We should of course protest about this individual but also about the possibility of others being treated in this undignified and callous manner in what is recognised as a civilised country,and a common destination for tourists

  7. Ozzy

    The only farangs that Thai people consider are the ones with plenty of cash in pocket.

    No Thai charity for farang in Thailand…

  8. KamnanT

    I wonder why the British Embassy is so concerned that Mr. Hewitt not talk about his experiences. Perhaps they are anxious to avoid further investigation into their poor handling of his case? Even Thai labourers stranded in the Middle East and other parts of Asia get more comprehensive assistance from the Thai government than the British Embassy initially offered to Richard. Only a good public airing in the press got the Bangkok Embassy staff off their backsides. That airing should continue.

    ""Sunshine is the best disinfectant"",0,1,,,0,0

  9. bobbie lee swagger

    what were the grounds for his deportation?

    A: Not having a valid visa AD

  10. John

    I am not sure if it is the responsibility for the UK to bail out every passport holder who gets themselves into difficulties.
    There are many thousands of individuals living overseas, who have no really connection to the UK other than the fact that they are passport holders.
    In my case I have not lived in the UK or paid UK taxes for 32 years, so for me I certainly don’t feel they have any obligation to help me out.
    If they are going to get involved, then it must be treated as an enterprise with more than just the overheads being covered.
    That may seem to be profiting out of misery, but I think that is the only way the system can be effective.

  11. kim harper

    not that i really care. but to clarify fecklessness over madness, this man states he bypassed hell for the land of the dead, his fellow inmates clearly not dead saw through his stunt, or abetted it. he got his inheritance, the writer got his story, the aid agencies got their names in print, thailand got rid of one unwanted farang, i've wasted my time typing this but everyone else should be happy

  12. Antoni Uni

    The whole story is a shame for the Thai authorities and it is wondering me IF there are really officials willing to help or are interested to ring a bell!

    Anyway, now he is ""deported"" after (mis)spending his money in this country, a quit wellknown risk in the mean time.

    Some years ago I found a homeless Asian man, also as a pile of bones laying along a very bussy road under the eyes of the police for around 12 days: http://www.antoni-uni-photography.com/Thailand-Asia-Antoniuni/National-United-Front-of/Social-injustice-poverty/11874803_sN9gu#840051267_3kKQX

    There seems to be very little ""humans"" to give a helping hand!

    THANKS Tracy!

  13. Jobb Virochsiri

    I'm in Bangkok but never heard of this incidence. Regardless, if a citizen of one country encountered trouble on foreign soil, the consular or the embassy of such country has sole responsibility to ensure that its citizen receives fair treatment. In this case if the Thai Police Department failed to report the arrest of Mr.Hewitt to the British Embassy upon finding that he is a British citizen, and further kept him in suffer for 8 months as claimed, the TPD must already be facing serious charges from British Embassy. Or if upon learning about Mr. Hewitt's plight, the British Embassy chose to neglect and left him suffer in Thai jail, Mr.Hewitt is now free to seek damages from both the British Embassy and the Thai Police Department.If this story is true, Mr.Hewitt could and should now use his inheritance to hire the best lawyer to go after the governments of both countries. If he is lack of funds, I will be more than willing to donate toward his course. Similar assistance should probably come from all international travellers who should fear of being deserted by their own mothercountries and being poorly treated by other friendly country they went to visit.

  14. newbie

    Good summary, Andrew

    And I liked Jobb's ideas of seeking damages from the Embassy and Thai police. But are you living on the same planet as the rest of us?

    ""What's with the Embassy telling him not to talk about it?"" First and only rule: don't upset apple carts in foreign countries

  15. westerby

    The problem with the British embassy is that it is institutionally incapable of independent action because of the culture of deferring to London and the fear of setting a precedent.This inertia has become so embedded in its performance its functionaries are really now no more than shiney arsed clerks running on tramlines of routine and procedure.
    That this man was permitted to languish for so long in such extremis is nothing short of a scandal and I for one raise it at every opportunity as an example of just how inept the representation here in Bangkok can be.
    But, that side, it now begs the question as to why it has taken 8 months for this man to be repatriated when he was both able and willing to go that much earlier? Surely, after their grotesque earlier incompetence they might have retrieved the situation somewhat and intervened more effectively in returning this man home before now?
    What steps were taken, if any, to expedite the process? At what level was any representation made, if any?
    Perhaps I'm doing them an injustice and they are not just a bunch of glass hammers and chocolate teapots but so far we can only judge the Embassy on its performance record which to date has been less than distinguished.

  16. jobb virochsiri

    An apology is in order that this story turns out to be true. I do am repugnant to any mistreatment people do to another, regardless of nationality. In this case, Mr.Hewitt should seek punitive damages first from the UK Embassy for its negligence to afford him humanly treatment and citizenry protection. The Thai police who acted improperly may be responsible to an extent, pending the period they carelessly allow this suffering to go on. However, Thai citizens sometimes may also suffer from this “Standard Procedures� that the police often insist upon, if this may somehow be considered any condolence.

  17. Millwall_fan

    I do hope Mr Ahmad isn't suggesting that Richard was feckless. I don't think he would do that, I found him to be a fairly understanding man. Richard had a bar in Chiang Mai and when the neighbouring hotel boxed his bar in, he was effectively finished. I wonder if that could have been a contributory factor to subsequent events.

    Andrew Drummond: Mr.Ahmad has not said Richard was feckless. Not to me anyway.

  18. John

    I certainly agree that Britons and all expats should be forced by law to carry full holiday/health insurance.

    I am amazed at the amount of expats here who have absolutely no health insurance especially considering that many are here on retirement.
    One argument I hear all the time against this is, what happens if a person can’t get health insurance because of a pre-existing condition(s).

    I don’t understand why anyone who has health issues and is not financially secure and has no health insurance would want or feel entitled to live here.

  19. Tin

    Recommended humorous reading: ""Consul in Paradise"" by W.A.R. Wood. Silkworm Books. Should be available at Asia Books branches. One hundred years on, the problem really hasn't changed very much.

    That said, this case does highlight the fact that most non-business community Brits here are far from happy with the Embassy. Of course, part of the reason for that is many of us have been far from happy with all UK governments – regardless of their supposed doctrines – in recent years. The business of most world governments has mostly become little more than looking after the needs of big business and sweeping any problems promptly under the carpet.

  20. Andrew Drummond

    Regret I have had to delete a couple of comments because of the invalid email addresses. One such person raised the point that I was just banging a drum against the British Embassy. That is a point the writer is entitled to hold. But I have nothing personal against the Embassy and have no reason to. Then again I am a journalist, thats what we do sometimes.
    Actually I set down my personal view yesterday in relation to how feckless this Brit was but my internet went down.
    But it went as follows:
    ""The word feckless was a phrase used by the Ambassador in general discussion not as an official statement. He reasonably meant to convey, I believe, that there was a category of people undeserving of assistance. That Richard had been instrumental in his own downfall is true. But actually on recovery he turned out to be a perfectly, polite, reasonable and intelligent man.
    I do believe that sometimes the Embassy does put people into certain boxes. The issue is simple. Do we help people in distress or do we size up how they got into trouble and then decide?
    The medical profession puts reckless and drunk drivers back together without question.
    I for instance lead a fairly quiet life. But occasionally I party (not in the American sense)
    However if , in an unlikely event I went out one night got drunk, picked up a working girl and then suffered a disability which left me, delirious, incoherent, and caught attempting to take a dump off the top the Bayoke Tower and then, emaciated with bones sticking out of my body and seemingly broke etc., I was chained naked to the bars of a cell it would be nice if someone helped more than supplying a burger and water ( particularly if I was going to nothing more than balance the burger on my nose) and alerted somebody with clout about my predicament, rather than listen to unfounded stories like say I had a criminal record, had been deported before etc.
    In this case two people, the photographer and Tracy Cosgrove saw there was something clearly wrong.
    Tracy Cosgove had clout of character, and it saved Richard I am sure. Nothing else.
    There are however 'feckless' foreigners in Thailand, who are not drunk, incoherent or mentally unbalanced, who seek, and without going into names some succeed, in getting close to their Embassies. These people have been responsible for misery of many.
    Some of these people are also very loud at self promoting their good deeds and have also sorts of plaques on their walls.
    Having said that I do believe that Britons should be law by forced to carry full holiday/health insurance. That way officials would not need to dither.
    And I agree as an afterthought that the Embassy do get cases which must lead them to think in desperation wtf!

  21. newbie

    I agree with westerby. But nothing will change the fact that UK embassies just do not have any clout in foreign countries. They must toe the line.

    And Millwall fan, no-one said Richard was feckless. You do jump to conclusions quickly, This is not Thaivisa. Check your facts first

  22. Gerard Mosselman

    I fully agree with you Andrew. However shouldn´t the Thai legal System be addressed by all the embassies for not keeping human beings in the way this poor guy was kept ? We all get what we deserve in a way, don´t we. However it is unreasonable to let someone suffer and almost die in a modern human society. But than again you never will know if the embassies are approached and judge the cases or are informed wrongly. We need more like Tracy.

  23. Charlie Fortnum

    I wonder if Mr Hewitt's ordeal was partly down to unfortunate timing. I don't think anyone expects the kid gloves treatment in Thai custody. But the Hon. Con. was new in post and having been something of a Thai rozzer himself, probably knew the score down his local cop shop and adopted a 'when in Rome' attitude. A UK solicitor once told me I'd be horrified if I knew what really goes on in the cells of British nicks, so perhaps we should dismount from our high horses. What does astound me is how a publicly accountable British body, the FCO, can rise above the outrage expressed on your forum AD – 3,700+ page views and counting and not a peep out of them. Let them eat cake is presumably the cry from Fortress Wireless!

  24. andrew drummond

    Yes. I have never suggested the Ambassador said Hewitt was feckless. And I made a point of pointing out that the Embassy have not said they have put him in this not yet specified category.
    However I accept that the way this story was written might lead people to think that Richard Hewitt was categorised in some way or another and more may come out on this.
    Did not think this was the chosen site of Millwall fans though or Liverpool for that matter 🙂
    Up the reds.

  25. Tracy Cosgrove

    Well Andrew here we go …
    Firstly I did what i did on my own back nothing to do with MCCF who helps children i did this as a regular woman who saw something i didnt like ..
    just to put a few facts out there… I am not going to go into full details the Embassy and Foreign Office will receive these shortly .

    After Seeing the Photos on Andrews Blog thanks Benny I went within 10 mins to the police station with the Printed out Photos – The Police Chief was shocked – we then saw Richard in the Cell and i arranged for BKK Pattaya Hospital Doctor and 2 Paramedics to come .
    Several Hours Later he was taken to Hospital after i had arranged for him to be showered clothed and had a medical check up to check he was fit to travel – The police fully co operated with this and as i state again Very Happy for me to do this . The Main Concern was who would pay for the Hospital Bill – I said dont worry i will.

    The night after i was at a Networking Evening where i was told by some people you should have left him there…hes a bum hes this hes that all rubbish bar talk . Others said well done .. Many False Stories were going round that i barged into the police station etc this is NOT true and Not my nature.

    Fast Forward 2 weeks I went to visit him again in BKK he recognised me straight away and was so much better we had a very good conversation and he thanked me for helping him .

    I carnt go on to everything else that went on after that , but i have been in full contact with Richard Since who did thank me for saving his life. Lessons to Learn – if you see someone who needs help do what you can to help dont think ooh what a shame . In the end Richard was able to pay his own hospital Bill . Please make sure you have Health Insurance.

    some people dont like what i did they say i should have left him and i have received hassle from this … would i do it again if i had the time over yes ….. even Richard as i was driving him to BKK last week said i bet your sorry you helped me arent you == my answer of course not.. Thanks Tracy please go to face book http://www.facebook.com/MelissaCosgroveChildrensFoundation and see what MCCF is doing to help Thai And Burmese Children

  26. newbie

    i certainly support what you did and i believe so do most if not all posters reading Andrew's blog

    just ignore the 'bar' talk nonsense doing the rounds on some of the forums

  27. westerby

    Well done Tracy. It took a woman with grit and determination to do what any civilised person ought to have done but didn't.
    I'm not surprised the embassy hasn't responded;how could they possibly defend their inertia when you have demonstrated just how simple it was to rescue Mr Hewitt from certain death, shackled naked and starving to his prison bars.
    Their silence is deafening but I suppose it is typical of an arrogance born out of a bunker mentality they so clearly have adopted.

  28. Justin Terested

    Sorry to digress. So, what did kill all those guests at that Hotel of Death in Chiang Mai then? I appreciate news marches on, but at least Mr Hewitt's stay in Pattaya chokey wasn't, as it turned out, a death sentence. And while you're at it, when's that alleged raping and murdering Professor volunteering for a DNA test to clear his name? PM Yingluck has excellent connections in Chiang Mai especially. Can she use her influence to help spin the wheels of justice?

  29. Andrew Drummond

    Dear Justin Terested

    I am trying to change the world. But of course i cannot. If you continue reading you will continue to see unanswered stories,

  30. newbie

    I understand why westerby talks of a 'bunker mentality' but embassies have to toe the government line and not upset an international apple cart particularly when all the apples have been 'mortgaged' to Eastern nations, including Thailand. Sadly the clout is not there anymore (though the Germans are being stronger over recent events)

    Kirsty Jones. the Chiangmai hotel deaths – bad smells all round

  31. Andrew Drummond

    Thanks John. I much prefer the version on the UK in Thailand. There you get the full report plus a separate story with quotes from Ambassador and Consular official.

    Actually I am on the case of Brits in trouble in Singapore at the moment on the story of the decade….an alleged bottom pinching Briton.

    Just in case Brits are getting too well behaved but we still need to talk about them.

    Full gory details coming soon.

    My favourite dip btw is John Lithgow in 'Our Man in Africa'

  32. Andrew Drummond

    Dear Me,
    Thank your for pointing to the comments on pantip.com.
    As expected most posters appear to believe that such a thing could not happen in this country, as per jet ski rip off. I will not take much comfort. 🙂
    Plus ca change

  33. John gatsby

    Once the Thai police get a farang into custody it becomes a simple formula of either extorting money out of you under the pretext of a fine , which is then divided up between an inherently corrupt police force or if you can't pay , you are subjected to extreme physical and mental brutality by a bunch of sadistic psychos.
    Justice in Thailand ? Don't make me laugh , it doesn't exist. Thai cops can kill with immunity and impunity as we all know about the summary executions of 3000 purported drug dealers , shot while trying to escape or resisting arrest. Thai cops are responsible for crimes far more heinous than visa overstay offences , crimes such as murder , robbery , rape , extortion , assault and drug dealing. Most Thai cops would be behind bats in civilised countries in high security jails but in the land of the smiles they rule by terror.

  34. Mark

    My old boss sent immigration to my house today. I managed to get one day to be with the family, then I will get locked up tomorrow as I dont have the funds to pay my overstay, let alone the flight for when I get deported. What a day this has been!

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