Fellow Australian Douglas Shoebridge whose evidence sentenced Luke Cook to death cited as prosecution witness again.
But he won’t be there. He’s wanted for human trafficking
An Australian wanted by Thai police for human trafficking has been cited as a witness in a new case being brought against fellow countryman Luke Cook, who has already been sentenced to death for drugs trafficking.
Luke Cook, 35, who last November was sentenced to death together with his wife Kanyarat Wedphitak, 40, and American Tyler Gerard, 25, for trafficking 500 kgs of ‘Ice’ was told that Douglas Shoebridge, 36, the prime witness against him in his drugs trial, will testify again in a case being brought in a military court in where he has now been charged with possessing war weapons.
Shoebridge is, however, unlikely to take the stand. A warrant has been issued for his arrest on charges of human trafficking alleging that he was instrumental in trafficking East African women into Thailand and southeast Asia to work as prostitutes. He left Thailand on April 24th on his British passport.
The new charges have been brought against Cook, who like Shoebridge, is from the Perth area of West Australia, not because the Thai police believe the death sentence is not enough, but for fears that he maybe acquitted on appeal, which is now pending.
The decision was made earlier this year after a meeting between between military and the Colonel in charge of the controversial Transnational Crime Coordination Centre which arrested Cook.
Cook appeared in court last Monday together with Australian Antonio Bagnato, who had also been charged with possessing war weapons after being released from a Thai prison last year, where he had originally been sentenced to death for the kidnap, detention, beating to death and disposal of the body of Australian ‘Hell’s Angel’ chief Wayne Schneider.
The two shackled Australians were remanded back to prison in chains – Bagnato, wanted for questioning by Australian police in connection with a murder in Leichardt, Sydney, to a military detention centre in Chonburi; Cook, an offshore caterer, to death row in Bangkwang Prison – the Big Tiger.
The profit making TCCC had been the subject of allegations of news manipulation, and corruption, and had recruited a bunch of dubious foreigners into its ranks, including some it had originally arrested.
Shoebridge, was regarded as Bagnato’s ‘gofer’. The Sydney inquest was told claimed at Luke Cook’s drugs trafficking trial claiming that Luke Cook has confessed to him that he had smuggled 500 kgs of ‘Ice’ into Thai waters on his yacht ‘Jomandy’.
He said that the trio had been smuggling for Wayne Schneider and that Cook had been paid US$15 million. But some very basic facts in the case are being disputed on appeal.
Shoebridge has told friends he will not be back for at least five years. It may be longer if his extradition is not sought. There is no Statute of Limitations for Human Trafficking.
Last week he told the West Australian‘ that he was aware of the warrant. “All these other things are hearsay until proven otherwise.”
Those ‘other things’ include accusations that he had ‘framed Luke Cook’ after Cook’s wife cheated him out of about A$6000: that he had been involved in a plot to fit up Luke Cook with cocaine, and that he had been involved in the construction of a nasty ‘Luke Cook’ website, prior to the trial. He has denied these accusations. On the website ‘Luke Cook’ confessed his guilt.
In the arms case Bagnato and Cook have been charged by the military for illegal possession of military weapons which were found after the death of Schneider in 2015.
The first batch of weapons – principally automatic rifles with telescopic-sights – was found in the white Isuzu DMax, which was used by Bagnato personally.
The second batch of arms charges relates to weapons found above a ceiling in a room Bagnato had rented in Luke Cook’s ‘Jolly’s Piss Stop’ bar-restaurant and guest house after the murder of Schneider.
Luke Cook’s lawyer is claiming that both Bagnato and Shoebridge were together when the room was rented. Both were given keys to the room. Cook had no idea there were weapons stored there, it is claimed, and had encouraged police to look when they called.
Ironically the weapons may have been supplied from the Thai military.
Bagnot’s acquittal on appeal (He was sentenced instead with Tyler to three years on lesser charges) flew in the face of evidence presented to and a verdict of homicide brought in by a New South Wales inquest into Schneider in December 2017.
The inquest heard how Bagnato was waiting at Schneider’s house when the group, wearing face masks, arrived. Bagnato, who was uncovered, was seen by security guards putting Schneider into a headlock.
Schneider was then put into a red Toyota and driven to Bagnato’s rented house in Jomtien Park Villas, near Pattaya. He died of a beating. His body was then taken and buried in a shallow grave nearby. One of Bagnato’s gang was Gerard Tyler, who lived him. Another was alleged to be Amad ‘Jay’ Malkoun former Australian Comancheros biker chief, who fled to Dubai.
It was Shoebridge and his Thai girlfriend Siriphat Saimart, acting on his directions, who provided the two vehicles, the red Toyota utility and white Mazda Dmax, which Bagnato and his group of cohorts used in the kidnap and disposal of Wayne Schneider’s body, according to evidence given to the Sydney inquest.
The inquest also noted also that Shoebridge put the deposit down on the house which Bagnato and his team of thugs also used for the beating of Wayne Schneider.
Some 18 months after the Schneider homicide case Shoebridge was recruited into the Thai police TCCC (Transnational Crime Co-ordination Centre) to investigate Luke Cook for trafficking some 500 kgs of ‘Ice’ on board his yacht Jomandy in June 2015. This was after he had made a belated statement that Cook had confessed everything to him back in 2015.
Shoebridge testified that because of his diving skills Luke had hired him on three occasions, to go searching in the Gulf of Thailand for missing gold. On the third occasion Luke had told him it was not gold but ‘Ice’ which he had dumped overboard after being caught in the searchlight of a Thai naval patrol.
Shoebridge said he was shocked and would have nothing more to do with Cook demanding to be taken ashore immediately.
He has told friends in Pattaya that he had been been set up on the human trafficking charges by NGOs and another member of the police team whom he named as the team’s ‘foreigners leader’ American ‘Joshua Pate’ aka ‘John McKey.
Shoebridge has young two daughters in Thailand. One had a medical condition and he hoped to bring her to Perth for medical treatment.
His Tanzanian girlfriend Sara Musa Chitanda, has already appeared in the dock at Bangkok Criminal Court as have two victims, who said they were trafficked from Tanzania and Kenya and according to their testimony were told they would have work in a beauty parlour.
Shoebridge’s role was to pose as their boyfriend and help keep order. They referred to him as ‘Big Daddy’ and ‘Baby Daddy’. Sara was their mamasan.
It is alleged that she rented apartments for East African women at the MD Place apartment block in Asoke-Din Daeng, Bangkok, where Shoebridge and Chitanda shared a room.
After the women had settled Sara took them to the front office to ensure the apartments were put in names of the new arrivals.The victims’ passports and return tickets were also retained and they were given laminated photocopies of the main and visa pages to show when subject to document checks.
She then put them to work in the Shock 39 Club, a known foreign prostitute venue, off Bangkok’s Phetchaburi Road, sending them there each night by taxi. They were instructed to charge 5000 baht for each customer. When one complained she could not do the work because she could not even speak English Chitanda told her:
‘You don’t speak English with your p*ssy’.
It is alleged that when their visas expired the women were sent to Indonesia, often Bali, for a month and while there, their passports would be returned to Africa where new visas for Thailand would be issued. When the passports were returned they would return to Bangkok again.
One witness, say police, has been allowed to return to East Africa under the care of the International Office of Migration. New immigration rules in Thailand also allow victims of human trafficking to stay in the country and find work during court proceedings if they so choose.The decision to charge Bagnato with possessing military weapons came after fears were expressed that he could be acquitted on appeal.
BACK STORY – THOSE ‘OTHER THINGS’
1. ROGUE INVESTIGATION TEAM
The investigation into Cook, his wife and Tyler Gerard, was carried out by a little-known but very controversial unit set up by Colonel Dullayapat Detpornchayasin (left) a Thai Special Branch officer. He had previously been with the Crime Suppression Division and from reports had found his desk john with the SB a little boring.
His senior foreign volunteer or CI (controlled informant) was an American he had known for some 20 years, called Joshua Pate, but also known as John MacKey. Pate was wanted for a felony in Texas.
The foreigners involved in the Luke Cook investigation were Frenchman Thierry Perenon, Israeli Russian Boris Klimov, and Australian FIFO workers Shoebridge, a compass adjuster, Craig Smith, an administrator, and Joel McGarry, a qualified ship’s master.
The Cook case was the units biggest case ever. Previously it had been known only had been busting Brits, expats in Pattaya for selling steroids or running sex parties. But few of those arrested made it to prison, not if they had cash.
This was a money-making business and those caught with steroids paid in the region of 2 million Thai baht nearly US$63,000. Among those who have admitted paying Pate – the go-between – this figure was Boris Klimov, who then joined the team and could carry on his business unhindered, and well known Pattaya personality, Tim ‘Sharkey’ Ward.
Pate has freely admitted taking the cash but said he was at the bottom of the good chain.
On the team of the Transnational Crime Suppression Centre apart from Klimov three others were actively dealing in steroids, Frenchman Thierry Perenon had multiple websites for his ‘Top Steroids’, Tate was selling Atlas brand, and Shoebridge himself was selling and had even been admonished for trying to sell steroids offshore.
One of his clients had been Sharkey, but Sharkey was not impressed with the quality.
Texan Joshua Pate was arrested in March this year in Chiang Mai Province running a cannabis farm and packaging plant and dealing in Class IV drugs – Dianabol growth hormone.
He had been leaking information about the Luke Cook investigation and he feared repercussions.
Pate claimed he had acquired the Dianabol for Shoebridge to show he was also active in the trade, but then realised he was probably being been set up himself. In a panic, he said, he went to Chiang Mai police and made a statement that someone had sent cash to his wife’s account and he felt he had been set up for something. He had already received messages from his former boss telling him to withdraw allegations or ‘I cannot help you’.
Before his arrest a bank slip on a Line App conversation with ‘Doug’ showing that he had been sent 120,000 baht for the Dianabol. Shoebridge had sent the slip as prove of payment, he said.
The telephone number on the slip was one they used to communicate and is known to the Anti-Human Trafficking police.
Klimov was deported three days before Luke’s arrest for overstaying his visa. He has since made statements from Tel Aviv, Israel, about the Luke Cook operation claiming Luke Cook was framed. He had conducted surveillance on the Luke Cook house and also reported that nothing of value was found apart from a motorcycle.
Thierry Perenon has been expose by the Nation and Khom Chat Leuk, Siamchon news, and Khao Sod news organisations and many social media sites for extorting foreigners while posing as a Thai policeman.
A complaint was made to the Thailand’s Department of Special Investigations (DSI.) But no action taken. He has since been lying low.
Joel McGarry, was according to Pate and Klimov, instructed to testify that Luke Cook had offered him 500,000 Thai baht (US$15,760) to sail the Jomandy to pick up the drugs.
Klimov says he was witness at a rehearsal in an apartment in Bangkok (paid for by police) when McGarry briefed what to say. ” He kept forgetting his lines. I got the impression that Joel hardly knew Cook, if at all. In the end McGarry refused.
Instead at the trial Craig Smith was called in to testify. He had originally been called in by Dullayapat to translate the foreign witness interviews into Thai. He gave hearsay evidence that McGarry had told him Cook had offered him 500,000 baht to sail the Jomandy.
Craig Smith. In court Smith under cross examination he admitted that he had used Kanyarat’s legal services to handle his divorce from his Thai wife. which had cost ‘more than he expected’ but he did not bear a grudge.
Privately, according to Pate, he said she had stiffed him for over a million baht and was furious. McGarry it is understood has been in touch with the Cook’s lawyers.
Douglas Shoebridge also admitted in court that he had used Kanyarat’s legal services and complained that she had cheated him out of 150,000 Thai baht. He had discussed the matter with other ‘victims’ of Kanyarat. Klimov said in written statement that he was bent on revenge. “Shoebridge was a person who had to win. He had to have the last word.”
In court he said that he bore no grudge.
This was at best a rogue unit with at least three of the team indicating that Luke Cook was framed. However, one has been arrested, the second had been deported, and the third has gone to ground and this is not the sort of evidence which could easily be brought to a Thai court, nor are they quality witnesses.
2.AUSTRALIAN FEDS KEPT IN THE DARK. THEN THE DEA WASHED ITS HANDS
In major cases like this involving foreigners it is customary for the Thai police to liaise and/or call on assistance from the country of which the suspect is a national. In this case the Australian Federal Police were bypassed and the assistance of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was secured. Australia does not support the death penalty and there could have been problems.But, according to Pate, this was his idea.
The DEA were known to be generous. Secondly he needed the DEA’s help to return to the United States with his family. In fact he was arrested while begging the DEA for that assistance claiming the DEA had put his life in danger. This is backed up by correspondence.
However, the DEA had washed its hand of the TCCC by this stage, having discovered the activities of the team members in the steroid trade and told Pate to apply to U.S. Citizen Services for assistance.
He was doing that when he was arrested.
3. FAKE NEWS?
‘My son has never been a Hell’s Angel. would never dream of joining such a group, or even associate with such a group. But those two words accepted as fact by all the media and invented by the Thai police, fed to them by people with malice in their minds. have condemned him totally. My son is innocent.’Paul Cook, father of Luke Cook
After Luke Cook was arrested the Royal Thai Police put out a statement in English and Thai prepared by the team. The statement said that Cook was part of a Hell’s Angels group trading in drugs. That he had been paid US$15 million to bring in 500 kg of ‘Ice’ on his yacht ‘Jomandy’ on behalf of Wayne Schneider, 50 kgs of that had washed up on a local beach. This was because Luke Cook had ditched the cargo overboard after being caught in the lights of a Thai naval vessel.
Nobody has queried these claims. When his house was raided, added police, it was discovered he had all the trapping of a man living well above his means; nine houses, flash cars etc. These facts have been set in stone in the Australian media.
But no evidence was presented that Luke Cook was a Hell’s Angel or even knew Schneider or went to the gym with him, as was claimed recently except by the two Australian offshore workers.
No evidence was presented that Luke Cook was paid US$15 million or that he had nine properties. His wife’s BMW and his home were both being paid by instalment. ‘They found nothing to show he was a particularly wealthy man,” claimed Pate, confirmed by Klimov, who was in the house.
No naval person of any rank could be found to testify to confirm that the Royal Thai Navy had ‘lit up’ the ‘Jomandy’. But to retrieve and dump half a tonne of drugs from within the cramped Jomandy would have rather difficult to achieve in an emergency.
Messages on Line-Apps purporting to be conversations between Luke Cook and Joshua Pate during the investigation show both colluding to construct a vicious lukecook.net net website which indeed was registered to Shoebridge and put up prior to the drugs trial and while Cook was on remand.
This site showed Cook being sexually abused in prison and Kanyarat being compared to the rear end of a buffalo.
Messages also show the alleged planting of something at the Cook residence, three days after a search showed no evidence of drug use a wrap of cocaine was found. Cooke was not charged with the cocaine. But the find was stated in court to show evidence of a ‘drugs culture’.
Footnote. Tim Ward, aka, Sharkey, a former loan shark, made Australian headlines when he accused Thai police of stealing gold from his apartment. A YouTube clip of him challenging Thai police went viral. In fact on this occasion Thai police were innocent. He now admits he knows it was Antonio Bagnato.