Friday, October 26, 2012

Thailand: British Couple, Both 21, Attacked by Motorcycle Gang in Krabi

Briton Jack Cole, 21, and his girlfriend, April Clifton, also 21, from Bath [UK], were in Ao Nang, Krabi, on October 22 (Tuesday) and were walking back to the Nopprarat Thara pier at 2300 hours to catch a speedboat to their resort in neighboring Plai Plong Bay, when they were suddenly attacked by eight members of a motorbike gang who seemed to be much more focused on getting their hands on April, than on economic gain.

Jack Cole sustained seven stab wounds to his shoulder and arm, one of which was eight inches deep and tore through muscle and a tendon. He also needed 30 stitches from being hit in the head with a machete. Although April sustained minor scratches and abrasions, she was not injured nearly as bad as Jack.

The attack occurred after Jack and April had passed the gang, at which point one of the assailants threw a large piece of concrete at Cole, hitting him in his lower back. When Jack turned to face the gang, they converged on he and April with clubs, machetes and a "butter-fly knife."  Some of the gang members held April with the apparent intention of sexually attacking her after they neutralized Jack.

COMMENT: It should be noted that from the outset Thai police began to characterize the attack as a "misunderstanding," yet both April and Jack refute that position, saying they were attacked without provocation.

When the assailants observed how much blood Jack had lost, they dispersed before police arrived. Fortunately, a Briton who owns a local dive shop came to the aid of the couple and helped them stop Jack from bleeding to death and helping them get medical attention.

Having worked in Thailand for a number of years, I need to stress that Thai police almost always "side" with their Thai compatriots, regardless of whether or not money changes hands. That being said, two of eight assailants have been arrested, yet whether they are convicted or not and the severity of their punishment remains to be seen.

Ao Nang has been the site of numerous attacks on tourists this year. Three months ago a Dutch model, 19, was raped. Police arrested her assailant, yet he was summarily released on bail. Additionally, a young German tourist, had her thumb cut off in a particularly brutal attack in Krabi not long ago.

Fortunately for both Jack and April, April's father, Clive, flew out to Phuket to be with both of them and helped them enormously sort through the legal maze with the assistance of the British Embassy.

For the benefit of our readers who despite continuing criminal violence in Phuket, Pattaya, Ao Nang, Krabi and other high-volume tourist magnets on Thailand's coasts, I suggest the following:

1. Obtain a Red Cross course in cario-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and emergency first aid BEFORE GOING ABROAD, particularly as it relates to gunshot and stabbing wounds;

2. Register your travel with your appropriate foreign affairs agency before leaving on your trip;

3. Be conscious and observant of suspicious people around out;

4. Always carry an unlocked, quad-band cell phone with you when abroad and ensure that you type in the numbers of police and ambulance emergency numbers and your local diplomatic or consular representative into the "speed-dialer";

5. Avoid being in close proximity to gangs of people that obviously are together who may be a source of trouble. There is nothing cowardly about crossing the street before you reach such person. That is simply be smart; and

6. Consider calling a reputable taxi service, rather than exposing yourself to vulnerable pedestrians late at night. 

It also was fortuitous for both April and Jack to have subscribed to international medical treatment and evacuation coverage before they left the UK. Otherwise, they would have been FORCED to pay for their collective medical bills in cash.