PHUKET: According to a story released this morning by AAP, Australia’s national news agency, a Melbourne mother of four is facing five years in a Thai jail after allegedly “stealing” a bar mat [‘coaster’] from a Phuket pub.
The report says 36-year-old Annice Smoel was arrested by undercover police as she left the Aussie Bar in Patong on May 3.
She says friends had put the bar mat in her handbag as a prank, but the undercover police working in the bar found the mat and arrested her. She spent two nights in a four-metre-by-four-metre jail cell.
“I had only just picked it up … had a quick look inside and saw there was something [I didn’t recognize] in it,” she said.
“I was nowhere near the handbag – one of the girls involved went down to the police and confessed and apologised, and they told her to go away.”
Ms Smoel, who was in the country to celebrate her mother’s 60th birthday, has been stranded in Thailand for the past 17 days after police confiscated her passport.
She said she was hanging in there, but wanted to get home as soon as possible to see her four children, aged six, eight, 11 and 12.
If she is found guilty, Ms Smoel faces between two and five years in jail, the AAP report says.
Ms Smoel is now stranded in Phuket as the police have seized her passport pending adjudication of the case. It is understood that her husband has returned to Melbourne to look after the couple’s children.
The incident follows the arrest and incarceration for 3 weeks of British national Simon Burrowes earlier this year after he had spoken “rudely” with an Immigration officer at Phuket International Airport. He was finally found guilty of the offense in court and fined 500 baht (approx US$ 14.28).
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