Yacht skipper blasts mob violence

THALANG: The skipper of a 30-meter superyacht has blasted villagers in the north of Phuket for “lawlessness” after a member of his crew was beaten up by a mob on Sunday evening, and was then forced to apologize to them for driving through their village too fast. After brushing aside security staff at the Yacht Haven marina, the mob of about 100 villagers from Baan Kor-Ane assaulted the driver and then attacked the pick-up truck he had been driving, causing damage estimated at 200,000 baht, said Charlie Dwyer, skipper of the yacht Yanneke Too. Mr Dwyer said that members of the mob also stole cameras and other valuables from inside the truck. He explained that the driver of the pick-up, Kent Michalick, and another crew member were hurrying back to the boat after receiving a call that there was a fire on board. “They drove through the village very fast,” he explained, “and they put the fire out. When they went back to the truck, which they had left in the parking lot, [Mr Michalick] was attacked by a mob of villagers. He was assaulted and punched a few times in the face, and he had to jump into the water to save his life. They threw rocks at him while he was in the water. “Then they beat the vehicle to absolutely nothing. After that, they came down the dock and threatened people in the boats in the marina – not just our yacht, but other yachts too. This was an uncontrolled mob, totally taking the law into their own hands. “Someone driving fast through a village should be arrested for driving too fast. He should not be beaten, and should not have his property destroyed. “We are a lucrative business for this country. We spend a lot of money when we come here. If this sort of thing is going to happen, these yachts won’t be coming back here. They’ll be going to Langkawi, to a safe port.” Angrily, he added, “The local police paraded [Mr Michalick] up to the village, against my specific wishes, and forced him to apologize to the people who had just beaten him.” Village Chief Somkiat Budsa explained that many people were on the street when the pick-up truck drove through. He told the Gazette, “They sped through the village, causing dust to blow all over the food stalls and scaring many villagers. Some were so angry that about a hundred followed the truck to the marina.” Concerned that the situation looked like deteriorating, K. Somkiat, who had followed the crowd, called the police. “At first about four or five officers turned up, but that wasn’t enough. Later, more police arrived, by which time the villagers were demanding that the driver apologize. “I spoke with the driver and eventually he went to the village hall and said he was sorry. It was almost morning before the crowd calmed down,” he added. Pol Maj Wirawat Chantarawijit, of Tah Chat Chai Police Station, who termed the incident a “sensitive” case, said, “The driver was fined for reckless driving. At the moment, we are investigating who destroyed the truck. It’s difficult because many people were there that night.” Asked about the incident, the General Manager of the marina, Andy Stephens, told the Gazette, “I’d rather not comment at this stage because the investigation is still going on.”

Phuket News

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Legacy Phuket Gazette

Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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