Pattaya Police have tried to wrestle back the ongoing media speculation over the case of the American and two Thai escapees, who escaped from the Pattaya Court last Monday at 3pm.
At a media briefing yesterday they said the escape, hunt and capture had been reported poorly, was full of speculation and factual errors. They pointed out that the wife of the American who escaped had been captured, and that the American man had died when he was still alive.
Flanked by other senior officers, Pol Lt-Gen Satawat Hiranburana tried to go through all the facts of the case to clarify the week-long media frenzy over the case. He said the investigation was still ongoing as they sought to clarify if the gang received help in their escape. He also suggest that “negligence” on the part of court security was a likely cause of the brazen Monday escape.
Some of the details he mentioned…
• He dismissed press reports about 40 million baht changing hands
• American Bart Allen Helmus was still alive in hospital in a coma
• The 39 year old escaped along with his 30 year old wife Sirinpha “Om” Wisetrit, and 40 year old Noi or Ton Nilthes
• Evidence in the form of pliers, chains, clothes, an adapted BB gun and a 9mm gun were presented
• Police listed ten people who allegedly aided and abetted their escape. They were all named as four men aged 20, 25, 31 and one other, and six women aged 18, 19, 23, 27, 32 and 40.
• Five vehicles including cars and pick-ups have been seized
The escapees have been charged with five offences including attempted murder, escape using force, weapons offences and firing a weapon.Â The accomplices, all of whom are now in custody, have been charged with three offences including criminal conspiracy and aiding and abettingÂ in an escape.
Police related the sequence of events…
Police said that one of the conspirators called “Mot” had given Noi a gun that was used to threaten a guard. He fired one time but the shot did not hit anyone. The guard – Pol Lt Thanamet Phophan – from the Sattahip force but temporarily attached to the Pattaya force – was stabbed by the American when he refused to hand over keys.
The three escaped in a pick-up followed by accomplices in a Mitsubishi Mirage and a Toyota Vigo. They went to Jomtien Sai 2 (cut through to Sukhumvit) then into the Huay Yai police jurisdiction. From there they travelled to Route 331 and on to Bo Win, Sri Racha. Their pick-up was left there and seized by police as evidence the next day.
Accomplices Mot and “Mack” cut the escapees’ chains and they were given changes of clothes. The three escapees travelled in the Mirage with two women named as “Ning” and “Naen” to Sa Kaeo province, near the Cambodian border.
All five were surrounded in a sugar cane plantation in Wattana Nakhon district. Noi and the female accomplices gave themselves up without resistance. But Bart and his wife attempted to flee across the border to Cambodia. Bart took his wife as a hostage and shot her in the head with a gun. But this was only a glancing blow and didn’t kill her.
He then turned the gun on himself and shot himself in the head. Both taken to hospital.
Lt-Gen Satawat praised all concerned for the swift capture of the escapees and resolution of the case. He said that the escapees and the conspirators had met in prison over recent months.
He dismissed media claims that 40 million baht had changed hands between the escapees and the accomplices.
Police also addressed the speculation that the American’s wife’s pregnancy was a reason for the escape. Police say it was more likely that they were fleeing because of the very serious nature of the penalties for their alleged drug offences.
Pol Lt-Gen Satawat Hiranburana said that an investigation was underway to determine if there was help from officials at the court though he gave more weight to the idea that “negligent work practices” had contributed to the successful escape.