Thailand’s Supreme Court upholds death penalty for school director who killed 3 in gold shop robbery

The Supreme Court of Thailand ruled today that the death penalty will be upheld for the former primary school director who shot dead three people – including a two year old child – and wounded another during a gold shop robbery in Lop Buri province three years ago.

On January 9, 2020, then-39 year old Prasitthichai “Golf” Khaokaew entered the Aurora gold shop inside a Robinson department store and killed three innocent bystanders, including a toddler. He fled with gold necklaces worth 664,470 baht (US$19,350).

On August 27, 2021, the Criminal Court sentenced Golf to death, a fine of 1,000 baht, and ordered him to pay compensation to all of the victims. He was found guilty of cold-blooded murder and illegal use of weapons among other penalties.

The court cited that Golf’s use of a gun silencer suggested the murders were premeditated. He also did not surrender himself to the police after the crime.

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During the trial, the defendant said that he fired a handgun to clear the way and it was a stray bullet that hit and killed the two year old child. The defendant confessed to the crimes and appealed, requesting a reduced sentence.

The Court of Appeal reviewed the case and decided that even if Golf pays the damages or performs meritorious actions, it is not a sufficient reason to reduce the punishment. The Court of Appeal upheld the sentence and the defendant appealed again.

Today, the Supreme Court upheld the sentence again, citing that now-41 year old Golf acted outrageously in the department store, which is a public place, and took the lives of three innocent, uninvolved people.

The court said his actions were cruel and inhumane. The court cited that the defendant was formerly a director of a primary school in Sing Buri province and should therefore be of good conscience. The Supreme Court ruled there was no justification to spare Golf’s life.

The implementation of the death penalty in Thailand is rare. The most recent execution occurred on June 18, 2018, when a 26 year old man was killed by a legal injection after being found guilty of aggravated murder.

In September last year, a Thai woman was sentenced to death after being found guilty of poisoning her own two children and posting her children’s symptoms online to solicit donations for her sick children.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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