Taxi Driver Testifies In Murder Trial PHUKET TOWN: A taxi driver testified in court today that he picked up murder suspect Kraisorn Kamnoun and another Thai male on the Patong-Karon Road one evening last December. Suwit Hemlek, a 34-year-old tuk tuk driver, was the first of two witnesses to testify this morning before Phuket Provincial Court Judge Amornpoj Kulwijit in the ongoing trial of two suspects charged in connection with the murder of British publican Roger Jennings. The witness told the court that his taxi was flagged down along the roadside by two men around 7 p.m. one night last December as he was returning to Patong after dropping off a fare at Le Meridien Phuket resort. He could not recall the exact date, he said. Jennings, 56, was found stabbed to death on December 15, 1997 in his home at Patong Hill Estate, a residential development located between Le Meridien Phuket and Patong. Suwit said he took the two men to the Phuket Merlin Hotel in Phuket Town where they requested that he wait with them for an individual who would pay their taxi fare. When asked by prosecutor Visit Larpniyom if he could identify for the court either of the two men in his taxi, he answered in the affirmative and pointed to Kraisorn. When the individual who was to have paid the taxi fare failed to show up after a two-hour wait, the cabbie said he was instructed to drive the pair to a gold shop where they would pawn a necklace. The search for a shop that remained open that late led them to the Patong Gold Shop in Patong Beach. After waiting outside the shop, Suwit said he was paid a 700 baht fare, whereupon he agreed to drive the men to the Phuket bus terminal on Phang Nga Road in Phuket Town. Suwit said he went to police a few days later after coming upon a photo of Kraisorn and the other passenger in a Siang Tai newspaper report on the murder. Under questioning by Parinya Siemharn, defense attorney for Jennings’ common law wife Nongnut Tungkaburi, who is standing trial with Kraisorn, the taxi driver said Kraisorn sat in the back of the tuk tuk and that a younger man sat up front during the journey. The second witness to testify this morning was Thawatchai Chotwattanakorn, owner of the Patong Gold shop, who told the court a man arrived at around 10 p.m. on December 15, 1997 to pawn a gold necklace for 2,000 baht. He said the man returned the following morning and negotiated sale of the chain to the shop for 4,400 baht. Thawatchai was not asked whether or not the man was present in court this morning. A 17-year-old male has also been charged in connection with the murder and is being tried separately in Phuket Provincial Juvenile and Family Court. The trial is scheduled to resume on November 23.
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