British man arrested for begging to buy drugs in Koh Pha Ngan

Photo via Matichon

Thai police arrested a British man after he allegedly begged for money to buy drugs outside a convenience store in Koh Pha Ngan, an island in the southern province of Surat Thani.

Locals on Koh Pha Ngan reported to authorities after seeing a foreign man begging outside a 7-Eleven convenience store and using drugs in the area. Officers from the Koh Pha Ngan Police Station and the Tourist Police went to the store near the Phan Thip Market and arrested the foreigner yesterday, April 17.

The foreign beggar was identified as a 47 year old Englishman named Nicholas James Hartas. He was found sitting shirtless outside the store with a paper sign that said, “IF YOU CAN. PLEASE! MONEY FOR FOOD.”

Police checked Hartas’s criminal history and found that he had escaped arrest in a drug case in Koh Samui and sought refuge in Koh Pha Ngan. Hartas confessed to fleeing from the arrest in Koh Samui, stating that he resorted to begging for food. However, residents informed the police that the majority of the money earned from begging was used to purchase drugs.

Officers did not report whether they conducted a drug test on Hartas or found any drugs in his possession. According to MGR Online, Hartas faced two charges:

Section 13 of the Begging Control Act: illegally begging. The penalty is imprisonment of up to one month or a fine of up to 10,000 baht.

Section 145 of the Narcotics Control Act: possessing Category 1 drug (methamphetamine). The penalty is imprisonment from two to 20 years and a fine of 200,000 to 2 million baht.

A similar story about a foreign beggar in Thailand was reported in February. Pictures showed a foreign beggar performing yoga in exchange for money on a footpath near Mor Chit BTS Station in Bangkok. He did several yoga gestures with a sign written in Thai, “I want money 20 baht or more for a plane ticket back home. Thank you.”

Thai authorities attempted to arrest and question the foreign beggar, but he disappeared from the scene before the authorities launched the investigation.

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Petch Petpailin

Petpailin, or Petch, is a Thai translator and writer for The Thaiger who focuses on translating breakingThai news stories into English. With a background in field journalism, Petch brings several years of experience to the English News desk at The Thaiger. Before joining The Thaiger, Petch worked as a content writer for several known blogging sites in Bangkok, including Happio and The Smart Local. Her articles have been syndicated by many big publishers in Thailand and internationally, including the Daily Mail, The Sun and the Bangkok Post. She is a news writer who stops reading news on the weekends to spend more time cafe hopping and petting dwarf shrimp! But during office hours, you can find Petch on LinkedIn and you can reach her by email at

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