In a remarkable case of seemingly misplaced justice in Thailand a Thai man who stabbed a British tourist to death in a fit of jealous rage today remains free despite pleading guilty at his trial and being sentenced… over eight years ago.

Mrs Yvonne Hart, 62, has had to live with the fact that the Thai authorities have let the killer of her 35-year-old son Richard Collins roam free, even though he has already been sentenced to seven and a half years in jail.

Amazingly he had been allowed bail while the Thai courts decided whether he should actually spend 15 years in jail instead.

Mum pleaded for full sentence

Shocked at his small sentence Yvonne Hart had asked the Thai Appeal Court to re-instate the 15 years -which they did.  His sentence had been halved by the original court because he pleaded guilty.

Then the killer 29-year-old Uten Duangnoi appealed to the country’s Supreme Court to have the sentence reduced again.

And all the while he was been out on bail.  But he had to put land down worth 500,000 Thai baht, more than£10,000, suggesting he was a lot more than a local motor-cycle taxi driver as was originally claimed.

Ao Nang – Krabi

If the defendant Uten Duangnoi turns up at the court to hear the Supreme Court judgement on Tuesday next week he should finally go to jail for one of the two periods, or something in between.

Scant regard for foreign victims in low profile cases

Younger days: Richard with mum Yvonne

But Mrs Hart from Belmont, Hereford, says whatever the result it shows the Thai authorities show scant regard for foreign victims of crime unless they are high profile and the Foreign Office should do more to support the families and press for action.

“Its an unfortunate fact that when young British women are attacked and murdered abroad it makes headlines in all the newspapers. When it happens to a young man its just a few paragraphs at best.”

She has asked an official of the British Embassy to attend the case as a token of concern but was told it will not be possible.

March on FCO

She intends to take part in a march to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office on October 9th by family members of Britons murdered abroad who have, she says, ‘ felt the FCO have been wanting with the assistance they presently provide’.

Richard Collins, a rock climbing, poetry loving, young adventurer, was murdered in Krabi in March 2005. An outdoor adventure type he had worked there in previously as a dive instructor in Ao Nang in Krabi but had left to earn better money supervising the construction of the roof structures of Thailand’s Suvarnabhumi International airport in Bangkok.

He was killed when he returned for a visit to Krabi with his Thai girlfriend Phanida Meedee, 24, ( nicknamed Nid) and they checked in together at the Greenery Hotel in after being picked up from the local bus station by an old diving school friend Sunitsa Sririrot.  Sunitsa asked him to drive.

Jealous Rage

When Sunitsa’s estranged husband however saw a foreigner driving a car he car he bought for his wife he flew into a jealous rage, demanding to see Collins and confronting him with his wedding photograph. Sunitsa  had spoken fondly of Richard but there had not been any romance.

She told police: “Uten ordered me to send Richard to talk to him otherwise he would kill all three of us.”

Richard Collins thought he could handle the situation and borrow a motorcycle to go and see Uten. But a fight ensued in which Collins was stabbed to death with a hunting knife. The serated knife pierced his back, side and heart.


Roof at Suvarnabhumi airport

Sunitsa fiercely denied claims that she had had a relationship with Collins. Uten insisted he murdered in self defence as Richard first hit him over the head with a dive-belt weight. As Collins no longer had access to such equipment Uten’s story was discredited.

But the case highlights a not often spoken about resentment Thai men have of  what they perceives to be rich foreigners who date Thai women.

Said Mrs Hart: ” My son was murdered because he sat in the wrong seat of a car. He had done nothing wrong and was ready to clear the air with the Thai man, but they should never have met, Sunitsa should never have put him in this position but she was under threat.”

Body was neglected

Killer Uten Duangnoi

One of the nastiest aspects of the case was that the Thai authorities in Krabi made no attempt to preserve Richard’s body. It was not kept in frozen storage. Mrs Hart was not allowed one last glance at her son after on advice from a Hereford funeral parlour.

“Not being able to say goodbye properly has been horrendous. I could not even have a lock of his hair to remember him by because they cut it off when he was embalmed.”

‘Unfortunate occurence’

FCO officials have since expressed regret at the “unfortunate occurrence” and set up an aftercare group for similar cases,

But Mrs Hart said: “That’s not good enough. They say they cannot interfere in the Thai way of doing things but surely they have a duty to check the bodies of British citizens murdered abroad and make sure everything is in order.

“We spend millions of pounds on maintaining British embassies abroad, but for what? So they can send my son home to me like that? I still cannot understand how things could have gone so badly wrong.”

Richard pictured in Krabi before his murder

She added:” Everyone who knew Richard would tell you the same he would always be there to help a friend and was a kind and very generous dearly loved son to me. I am very protective of his memory.”

Footnote: Anybody in Krabi bi-lingual and willing to attend the court to hear the decision and represent Yvonne please contact this site. The black case number is 972/2548. I will try to get the red case number.


  1. Unfortunately I would imagine there to be a pretty good turn out at this march. This country has become a lawness and frankly it should be very very ashamed of itself that we have to resort to marches to draw attention to people's plight.
    My heart rests with the families of cases like this!

  2. I think the British government decision to run the FCO and its Embassies as a business, as in U.K. Ltd, has done a lot of harm and caused ill-will. Not only are people getting seemingly overpriced bills for document authentication but the families of victims such as in this case get billed for all sort of things. Its not that they cannot pay it just seems so tacky and I believe Embassy officials must be embarrassed by it sometimes too.

    1. Agreed and it isn't only FCO "UK Ltd." who have decided to outsource for the common good (their good that is) i.e. cost savings.

      Following UK Foreign Office motto "f*ck our tax paying citizens they're a costly inconvenience", many other consulates have outsourced services in the same way.

      Outsourcing isn't the only problem though, its this constant belief that civil servants have….i.e. we know best, you're simply a member of the public (PLEB).

      Of course the local consulate staff have their strings pulled from the UK, however showing some common sense and initiative might go some way to improving services for their citizens abroad.

      Ooops, strike that last remark I forgot…that certainly wouldn't be a good career move!

      As far as being "seemingly" overcharged for documentation it isn't seemingly its a fact. A large number / majority of letters produced by the consulate for their citizens are standard letters. i.e. in a word processing format in which addresses, names and or occasionally figures have to be changed / inserted.

      The price for this "seemingly" difficult task is a minimum wait of several hours plus and of course the obligatory expensive minimum fee for the privilege.

      Nobody believes (or very few people believe) FCO staff are "free-lance sheriffs" that's a fu*cking ludicrous thing to say.

      However, many citizens do believe strongly that FCO and consulate staff (Civil Servants) on the whole are lazy, useless, feather nesting, inept arrogant ar*seholes!

  3. In the case of a murder of a British Citizen, simple commonsense and decency dictates that in a foreign country Mrs Hart should be accompanied to the Court by a bi-lingual Embassy official. I add to Andrew’s last two lines. If anyone on Krabi can recommend someone who is bi-lingual I will happily pay their daily rate for their assistance to Mrs Hart. All I would ask for is a receipt, so that on my next trip to London I can present the receipt to Richard Ottoway and Sir Menzies Cambpell of the Commons Foreign Affairs Committee and ask them “Why”.
    My thoughts are with Mrs Hart and her family.

  4. I've made no secret of my detestation of the Brit embassy staffers. Feather – bedded, over-paid shiney – arsed clerks led usually by s self serving careerist furthering his own ends through a combination of hypocrisy and sycophancy. Dreadful bunch and utterly useless. As you say Andrew, they are simply a revenue gathering device but insofar as their alleged commercial function goes, most businesses worth their salt have nothing but a healthy contempt for the "F-ing CO" unless, of course, a healthy bribe needs negotiating e.g. BAE et al.
    There is really no need for them whatsoever in Bangkok or most other places save as a letter box facility or in order to obtain an emergency document, a facility which in truth could be performed under contract by any commercial organisation. Visas are issued by the Home Office in Croydon/Sheffield on behalf of many posts, passports are processed regionally, they provide no meaningful assistance to Brits in distress and are practically uncontactable most of the time. Chocolate teapots, the lot of them.

    1. Yes Gerry but I do not want this thread to go down that course. They are all human beings in there working to some pretty rigid FCO rules which prevent them doing things which they as people would wish to do. So quite nay very often the criticism is unfair. Its the Whitehall mandarins who dream all the stuff up who should be the targets – FCO secrecy is legendary so we have to wait years before we find out whose silly idea was whose. We also have to blame successive governments who have created the need for rigid rules, some of which do not appear to make sense at all but are designed to close one gap or another.

    2. Not back pedalling Inspector – Mrs Hart had nothing but praise for a staffer in the FCO. Her complaint locally was that the consular officer who went to identify the body, actually identified the body from a picture and did not see it. As a result nobody, apart from the Thais, had any idea what state it was when iy was despached home. Impossible to do autopsy and have proper inquest.

  5. A good corrective from Andrew there. Many people think the embassy is more or less an independent force and its provincial staff are free-lance sheriffs acting on their own initiative. In fact the unpopular stuff – such as ludicrously expensive notarial services, charging relatives to get a letter of release to have their beloved released from the mortuary, not doing much for the distressed, not turning up in court except if a Brit is facing the death sentence – are all laid down in meticulous detail by Foreign Office regulations set in London. What is true is that UK government in the last five years has tightened the noose round its embassies and consulates worldwide. There's a growing trend to centralize services in London (passports, visas, registrations) to outsource wherever possible and to persuade the overseas public to use the official website and social media rather than to expect human contact services in the country you happen to be in. A few years ago it was suggested that a freephone telephone number would eventually replace all "embassy help" services across the world. That would be a huge cost-saving exercise somewhere in a locked drawer at the moment. At the moment.

    1. Barry Kenyon gives a fair summary but for any centralised policy to work there has to be minor discretion given to local staff who are often subject to critical brickbats thru no fault of their own. Mr Hague in his policy speech "Looking after our Own" stated that the Government's moral obligation to its citizens did not stop at the Cliff's of Dover and more pertinent that one of 6 new measures was to strengthen the support given to someone bereaved by murder abroad. I would have thought that a consular official, if requested, attending once at the beginning and again at the end should be part of the policy detail for trials such as rape or murder, rather than a blanket we do not attend trials.

  6. Getting back to the original topic…this young man's murder.

    Firstly, there's nothing "amazing" about a person getting bail here while on murder charges, that is providing they can produce the "guarantee" needed and it appears he did. In fact if you speak to Thais here (educated Thais) they will say it's easier to get bail for murder than it is for political or immigration offences.

    Secondly, criminals especially murderers here understand Thailand has a Statute of Limitations so many disappear for the necessary period of time needed (murder = 20 years) and wait for the limitation to expire. A long time you may say, well not in Thailand as the authorities here have short memories and providing you're not picked up or in the system you can live a quiet life and many do just that.

    The family often pays the bail or dare I say it pays the police not to prosecute providing the victims family agrees. In this case as the victim was a fa-rang no such deal would be possible, so I'm surprised this man didn't simply vanish as many do when he got bailed originally. Maybe he was convinced the murder charge wouldn't stand up in court but that's pure supposition.

    Finally. of course some Thais resent / hate farang's who they perceive as stealing their women, (mainly lower class uneducated poor Thais), it's a well known and talked about subject if you live here. The poorer Thai men drink whiskey to excess and often use drugs so to say they're volatile might be an understatement.

    This young man's death is a tragedy for his family but for the grace of God this killing could happen to any young fa-rang on holiday here if they're not aware of the difficulties forming friendships with Thai women excluding bar girls of course. (life is cheap).

  7. Dear mrs hart ,while looking through an old diary from india from 1995 I decided to google richards name.To my horror I discovered your curent plight.firstly I'd like to say how sorry I am for you and your family and to offer you my sincere condolences.I spent probably the best 4 days of my life with richard in corbet national park and delhi.He was the first soul partner I met on my travels and in such a short time I learnt a hell of a lot from him.At the moment I am quite numb and sad with shock as this is the first I had heard of his plight .I hope you get closure to this tragic loss ,my thoughts are with you and your family.phil sherwood

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