PATONG: Low-season desperation for passengers took a deadly turn Saturday night, when a motorcycle taxi driver gunned down a rival from a competing queue in Patong.
The alleged killer, who turned himself in the following day, was no stranger to being handcuffed: he was out on bail for the May 19 shooting murder of another man inside a 7-Eleven store on nearby Nanai Rd.
Pol Maj Gen Apirak Hongthong, the omnipresent Phuket Provincial Police Commander, made his way to the murder scene after being informed of the shooting at 10 pm by Kathu Police Superintendent Col Grissak Songmoonnark.
Also at the scene was Kathu Police Investigations Inspector Chalermchai Hernsawas, who identified the victim as 31-year-old Pornchai “Ko-Cherd” Suwannakin.
Mr Pornchai was shot at least four times with a 9mm weapon as he stood next to his motorbike in front of the Bua Hotel on Phisit Gorani Rd. Two of the bullets entered his skull, killing him instantly. He was also hit twice in the back. Police collected four bullet casings at the scene. His assailant, who was riding a motorcycle, rode off quickly, witnesses said.
Rescue workers from the Kusoldharm Foundation took Mr Pornchai’s body, still clad in the trademark light blue taxi-driver vest, to Patong Hospital.
“We know the victim had a problem with a member of a rival motorcycle taxi queue,” said Lt Col Chalermchai. “We learned by questioning people in the area that he was a kind fellow, but a few days earlier he had parked to pick up a fare in an area claimed by a rival taxi queue. That’s what led to the dispute and subsequent murder.”
Questioning the victim’s friends from the same queue, police were told that the killer was none other 31-year-old Chainart Yuyen.
Earlier this year, on May 18, Chainart turned himself over to police after an arrest warrant had been issued for him in connection with the murder of motorcycle taxi driver Satien Wongwai, aged 25.
Mr Satien, also described as a friendly man, was shot twice in the back and once in the neck with a 9mm gun inside the 7-Eleven on Nanai Rd, near the intersection with Sainamyen Rd, at about 2 am on May 16.
Chainart, who met with Patong Mayor Pian Keesin before handing himself over to police in May, denied any involvement in that murder.
After his relatives posted bail he returned to work in the same area, which is home to thousands of nightlife industry workers who use motorcycle taxis to get to and from work in the Soi Bangla area.
The same scenario was played out again on Monday when Chainart, again accompanied by relatives, turned himself over directly to Maj Gen Apirak, Phuket’s top cop.
Lt Col Chalermchai declined to say exactly where or when the handover took place, but said that the suspect has now confessed in both cases and has already been charged with a second case of premeditated murder.
“He is still in a cell at Kathu Police Station. We are preparing his case file and will turn him over to the Phuket Provincial Court soon,” he said.
“We will not allow his release on bail under any circumstances,” he said.
Chainart is scheduled to appear before Phuket Provincial Court today.
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