English squire murdered, then burned

PETCHABURI (The Nation): An English country squire was killed and his body burnt on a charcoal fire after he divorced his Thai wife because of her gambling debts.

After being burned, the body of Toby Charnaud, 41, was then dismembered and parts scattered in Kaeng Krachan national park, a court in Phetchaburi was told on Monday.

Charnaud had sold Latimer Farm near Chippenham in Wiltshire, after falling in love with a bargirl in Bangkok. He went to live in Hua Hin, where he bought two bars to run with his new wife, Pannada.

But after he took Pannada home to visit his parents in Britain, the marriage began to fall apart. Charnaud eventually divorced Pannada because of her gambling debts, giving her a 777,000-baht settlement. They shared custody of their five-year-old son.

In April last year Pannada, 35, reported Charnaud missing to police, but in court on Monday she admitted she had lied; on March 27 last year she had in fact helped five relatives and friends from her home province of Yasothon in the Northeast to dispose of his body.

Pannada denied premeditated murder and being an accomplice to murder but Boontin Puipong, Sattri Sripatum and Nipit Satabut admitted murder with provocation. They have said they were provoked because Charnaud had interrupted them while they were drinking whisky.

Pannada said, “I was at the market and returned home to find my ex-husband dead.”

All four were also charged with possessing a gun in a public place, deceiving police, and concealing the body.

Two other defendants, Somsak Papai and Wisan Samaksri, denied all charges. Their only involvement, they said, was that they moved Charnaud’s car after the murder.

In Britain, after Charnaud was reported missing, his sister Hannah Allen and his parents, Jeremy, 67, and Sarah, 65, became suspicious. They hired a Thailand-based Scottish private detective, who checked mobile-phone records and discovered that Toby had been at his ex-wife’s house on the day he supposedly disappeared.

When police raided the house, two of the defendants confessed and led police to where they had dumped the body parts.

Toby Charnaud had arrived to visit his five-year-old son Daniel, Phetchaburi Provincial Court was told. At first the relatives and friends of Pannada tried to kill him with a long-barrelled hunting musket but it misfired. They then clubbed him to death with an iron bar and wooden staves.

They burned his body on a charcoal fire, using 20 kilograms of charcoal they had bought earlier in the day. They then cut up the charred body and distributing the parts around Kaeng Krachan National Park on the Thai-Burma border.

The Charnaud family’s lawyer, Boonchu Yensabai, who is jointly prosecuting the defendants said: “The only motive can be that Pannada expected to inherit everything through their son. If she is acquitted of conspiracy to murder, we will appeal.”

In a letter to the court, Mrs Sarah Charnaud said: “For me, his mother, one of the worst horrors of his death is the fact that the first attempt to kill him failed and he would have been aware of his murderers making their fatal attack. His fear and concern for his son would have been overwhelming.

“Toby was a wonderful father to his son and it is so unfair that a small boy has been deprived of a great father and a father has been deprived of seeing his son grow up.

” It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that this woman was behind the murder of the father of her child.

“I trust the court will judge fairly and also understand that I cannot be there to hear the defence downgrade the value of human life and to hear more details of my son’s horrific death.”

Gentleman farmer Toby Charnaud predicted his own death in a short story competition organized by a magazine in Bangkok, his sister Hannah Allen believes.

The story, entitled Rainfall, is about a British man called Guy who falls in love with a Thai woman and whose life then falls apart.

She does not come home at nights. She builds up gambling debts. Eventually he is murdered by his best Thai friend, who – though Guy does not know this – is one of his wife’s lovers.

The story won first prize.

Said his mother, “The story is eerie. I am sure he had his suspicions.”

The case was adjourned until September 6.

Phuket News
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