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Australian Women Arrested In Phuket Over Bar Mat

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A Melbourne mother is stuck in Thailand charged with theft and facing time in a Phuket jail cell.

Thirty-six-year-old Annice Smoel says: "I get very scared when I see police. I'm just trying to keep it together, so I can get home." Undercover police arrested Smoel in the early morning hours of May 3.

Patong Police claim Smoel stole a bar mat from Phuket's Aussie Bar. Smoel spent the next day in a four-metre-by-four-metre cell with three other women.

Police have confiscated Smoel's passport. Smoel says she is struggling with a severe language barrier and doesn't know what will happen next.

She is facing between two and five years jail - and has not been given any food in the past four days according to her lawyer.

3AW Breakfast is speaking to Smoel, her husband and lawyer now.

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Do you have a source for this piece of news?

Please post the link and the name of the source, thank you.

moved to General

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What would bar mat mean in this situation? Perhaps a mat on the table or a floor mat at the entrance? When I worked in restaurants, the bar mat was the heavy rubber floor covering that made it less slippery around the drink machines or bar.

Here are some sources:

I wonder why the media hasn't interviewed the friends who she says are responsible.

http://www.news.com.au/heraldsun/story/0,2...077-661,00.html

http://livenews.com.au/news/australian-wom...009/5/19/206999

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This mornings headline from the "Herald Sun" Melbourne, Australia Any comment would be superfluous :)

A MELBOURNE mother is facing up to five years jail in Thailand over the alleged theft of a bar mat from a popular Phuket bar.

Montrose mother-of-four Annice Smoel, 36, was drinking in the Aussie Bar in Phuket with friends when they played a prank on her, putting a bar mat in her handbag.

Ms Smoel said undercover police in the bar stopped her on her way out. She was then arrested and spent two nights in a Thai jail cell.

“They came up to me and said ‘show us in the bag’. I had only just picked it up … had a quick look inside and saw there was something in it,” she told 3AW.

“I was nowhere near the handbag. One of the girls involved went down to the police on Sunday morning and confessed to the crime and apologised and they told her to go away, they didn't care.''

"I have been treated unfairly and held here for something I didn't do."

Ms Smoel said she initially thought police were letting her go but when she got outside they arrested her and put her in a 4m by 4m jail cell for two nights and three days.

Police have confiscated Ms Smoel’s passport and she has been stranded in Thailand for the past 17 days.

“I am doing ok, I am hanging in there. I don’t feel like I can really deal with what’s happened until I can get home and see my kids,” she said.

Ms Smoel, who was in Thailand with friends celebrating her mother’s 60th birthday, has four children aged six, eight, 11 and 12.

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The bar is obviously owned by an influential Thai - policeman or politician.Would a Farang owned Bar have undercover cops working in it? Would the police care if a Farang owned bar got ripped off? Certainly not, because the police are looking to do just that - rip off the Farang owned bar themselves by searching for unauthentic music on the computer or Thai CD's etc or absolutely any other "law" they can make up to extort baht from the owner. (yes, I've owned a Bar in Thailand so I'm talking from first hand experience)

So,this is some Thai scumbags bar and they are putting a tourist in jail for stealing a towel. I suggest you avoid this bar if you're ever in Phuket and tell everyone that you know to avoid it as well.

Edited by duchovny

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So Thailand is a place where you will be thrown into a filthy, small jail cell with 3 others if you so much as take a bar towel from a bar?

I though Singapore was bad. Time to visit somewhere else.

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The bar is obviously owned by an influential Thai - policeman or politician.Would a Farang owned Bar have undercover cops working in it? Would the police care if a Farang owned bar got ripped off? Certainly not, because the police are looking to do just that - rip off the Farang owned bar themselves by searching for unauthentic music on the computer or Thai CD's etc or absolutely any other "law" they can make up to extort baht from the owner. (yes, I've owned a Bar in Thailand so I'm talking from first hand experience)

So,this is some Thai scumbags bar and they are putting a tourist in jail for stealing a towel. I suggest you avoid this bar if you're ever in Phuket and tell everyone that you know to avoid it as well.

My understanding is the Aussie Bar is in fact owned by Aussies although no doubt there is a Thai involved in the ownership structure. There must be more to this story than meets the eye.

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Assuming that there is not more to the story, I am seriously considering not visiting Thailand anymore. I do NOT condone theft, even petty theft, but this appears to be extremely harsh, especially for a country that has all sorts of hard-core criminals walking around free.

Another nail in the coffin that is Thailand tourism :)

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So Thailand is a place where you will be thrown into a filthy, small jail cell with 3 others if you so much as take a bar towel from a bar?

I though Singapore was bad. Time to visit somewhere else.

This story is really gathering a very high profile in Australia, The Australian Prime Minister has now publicly denounced the Thai justice system and vowed to do everything possible to secure her immediate release.

The radio talk back stations have been swamped by callers telling of their experiences with rip offs and corruption in Thailand.

So many people with negative stories on Thailand coming to the public's attention will see a dramatic drop of in Aussies holidaying in Thailand and Phuket in particular (the new Bali for Australians).

I have never heard so much negativity from tourists from any country regarding Thailand.

It will be most interesting to see the reaction from the Thai Authorities given the comments from the Farang Australian Prime Minister, I doubt they will be prepared to lose face over this matter, even although it is just a small towel placed on the bar to soak up the spillage.

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I think you will find that a Aussie chap owns the bar, he looks like David Boone or Merv Hughes with his handlebar moustache.

He needs to step in and not press charges.

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Yet another story to encourage tourists to return to Thailand.

If this is the full story - pathetic over reaction by the Thai police in the first place and then they totally ignore the confession of the real culprit.

Radio interview with Mrs Smoel and others here...

http://www.3aw.com.au/blogs/3aw-breakfast-...90519-bd48.html

Edited by loong

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I think you will find that a Aussie chap owns the bar, he looks like David Boone or Merv Hughes with his handlebar moustache.

He needs to step in and not press charges.

The story over here goes along the lines that BG placed the towel in her hand bag as a prank.

Security in the Hotel had observed what took place and got in to a discussion with the BGs and the woman walked out of the Bar leaving her Bag and the bar mat in the Bar. Undercover Police arrested her as she left the Bar on the street.

She has been locked up now for several days and the BGs have made representations to the Police and provide statutory declarations stating the Australian woman had no involvement in the episode.

But the Thai Police have said she will be held for up to 48 days before any charge is laid followed by going to court that will take at least 7 visits before any decision of guilt or otherwise is determined.

There is out rage from Humanitarian groups and high profile legal firs and Counsels.

Time for Australians to read a few reports on the Thai Justice system before considering a trip to LOS.

This are really hotting up down here.

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I listened to the radio interview with the lawyer and the bar mat in this case is the mat they put the glasses on while filling them. The type that retains liquid spills due to the deep pattern in the rubber.

Also in the interview the women who supossedly put the mat in her bag filed statements from Australia. Call me cynical, but if they're not willing to go back to Thailand and help it doesn't count for a lot. Oh note it's a different audio than mentioned above at the same website.

Edited by Carmine6

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What would a tourist nick a bar mat for? :)

Another surprising aspect she was only in jail cell with 3 others - usually lot more than that.

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