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Australian Women Arrested In Phuket Over Bar Mat


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Amazing Thailand

Just how Amazing Thailand is, is now splattered all over the world's press.

The Malaysian Tourism Minister must be pisshing himself laughing.

Perhaps its time they changed their own Motto

Malaysia - Turly Asia (but not Thailand)

AMAZING THAILAND - BURMA WITH ELECTRICITY

Don't report those pesky murders and jumpers because it's bad for tourism. Arrest and jail a 60 year old woman for several days over the theft of a bar mat. Priceless!

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Oh no, the Thai police now have a beer mat theft division that does undercover work in bars to smash a international beer mat theft ring.

PLEASE!!!!

His property, his bar, only the owner can press charges as it's his property.

How did the police know it was stolen? she might have payed $60 for one earlier in the evening, that is what Steve sells them for remember..

Someone reported it, that's for sure.

It stinks, he could go down to the police that he pays anyway and said she purchased it, easy and cleared up.

He chose to drag her through the legal system, way to go Steve.

If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

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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

i read this report in todays melbourne age and heraldsun -- and i am not too sure what sort of restaurant u worked in before but the floor mats have never been call bar mats -- it was nothing like a mat the floor -- its a toweling cloth placed on top of the bar to mop up drinks - other wise known as a bar runner --= think u are taking about safety mats --

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For me, the relevance of this post is not whether the lady actually committed an offence or not, it's more to do with the Australian (and no doubt soon to be international) perception of justice in action in Phuket, and the broader context of Thailand. I would also anticipate a lot more 'horror' stories of treatment in Thailand surfacing, through blogs etc. Will it influence the decision of (particularly Australian) tourists to visit Thailand, I think undoubtably. The hotel and bar owners in Bali must be smiling this morning.

Exactly right.

This incident is receiving massive press coverage. Anyone watching it would be too scared to go to Thailand. The main issue for the general public is that you can be thrown into a filthy Thai jail without a trial for a trivial offence. This has happened to a 36 year old mother, not some Jordy lager lout. It's now obvious that everyone's in danger of upsetting an inferiority complexed Thai cop and getting thrown in jail. (not that you can blame them for having inferiority complexes; ugly, dumb, bad teeth, small penis, no personality)

We all go on holidays and get a bit drunk and sometimes play-up. But we don't expect to be thrown in jail for small misdemeanors. Thailand tourism will suffer for this. That's the issue no matter who thinks whom is to blame.

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3 to 5 years in jail for a mat??? when will they learn??? get into politics, is less risky, more profitable and if you do wrong, they even let you go oversea to spent the rest of your life on a sunny beach...

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What a crock of sh1t,, as if this is the real reason, a bar mat really, anyone with half a brain that knows thailand will know this "offence" wouldnt have left the bar, OR police negotiations,i think western "principles " will be involved, lets wait and see,.

Exactly.. The 'crime' isnt the beer mat.. the crime is running away from the cops, fleeing when they told her to stop, and then gobbing off at the chief of police back at the station..

Simon spent 3 weeks in a jail and months sorting this out and everyone on here slated him.. He must have been 'aggressive' or 'rude'.. Anyone whose seen the hen night type ozzie shielas down Bangla will have a guess how this went down.

I feel sorry for this Lady - Innocent fun and now facing Years in a Thai Jail.

The admit they did it "as a prank"..

And 'innocent' of resisting arrest ?? They wouldnt do a runner from an Aussie cop.. but they think just cos they are in Thailand and western they can act out and do what they like..

and u have never been drunk - u little saint -- b**sh** -- suggest you read the report in the aussi newpapers -- pretty good account of what took place - and i cant for the life of me believe some prick expat aussi bar owner would bother to press charges of such a minor infraction -- come on get a life -- he is making a fortune of farang tourists - but u can bet your bottom dollar that now that the word has got out about how much of a prick he is no one is going to enter his fine establishment again - and i wonder how much tax he pays - >??????

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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.

NOT true, I know Steve and he has had this bar for years and is a great guy

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I just have to weigh in here. It appears to me that the dissembling has begun by the Aussie parties involved to downplay this incident. A prank, yea sure, wasn't a particularly clever one was it?

As for most of the outraged posters, I get it now, you want the police to enforce the law against Thais, but if a white tourist is involved, "well hold on there a minute, you can't do that to us" attitude. And where did this part about paying off the police come up, some poster "alledged" she could have paid and then everyone ran with it as if it were a fact.

Yes, what the authorities are doing sounds harsh for the offense, but if she copped an attitude to the police and verbally abused them, then thats the main mistake she made. Do this in some countries and get a beating on top of jailing!

I have lived in many tourist areas, including Mexico, Honduras, Thailand, etc. and I noticed one common denominator is that a tourist can get away will a lot of silly pranks, but when you disrespect the locals, police or say bar operators/

biz employees, you are asking for trouble big time.

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Even if she'd been the most loud-mouth, abusive tourist in the whole of Phuket, there's an easy way to deal with this that doesn't involve throwing her in the slammer (or wherever) for god-knows-how-many-days....

"You're bard. Goodbye."

Didn't get there for some reason.

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Hi

Right now i think the BIB should come down to Chalong, Rawai, Nai Harn and try to solve all the break in and the mugging going on here and not put a woman in jail for a beer mat,

TIT

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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.

And if true, another one for the popularity of Thailand?

Hurrah!

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I fail to see the difference between a Jordy Drunk and an Aussie one?????????/ Just be cause she has a front ass as well as a back you think she is a better drunk than a jordy??? Amazing.........

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Some quotes snipped for brevity purposes by poster

His property, his bar, only the owner can press charges as it's his property.

How did the police know it was stolen? she might have payed $60 for one earlier in the evening, that is what Steve sells them for remember..

Someone reported it, that's for sure.

It stinks, he could go down to the police that he pays anyway and said she purchased it, easy and cleared up.

He chose to drag her through the legal system, way to go Steve.

If you lie down with dogs, you get up with fleas.

It seems to me that Steve Woods is certainly aware of this and may well have attempted to clear up the mess with the BiB; after all he knows this kind of publicity is bad for his business and for tourism in general. Perhaps he did go to the police to try to clear the lady and they rebuffed him...with something uttered like "stay out of this Farang bar owner". But if Steve did this, he isn't about to allow his name to get plastered all over the media or he knows his days as a businessman in Phuket or anywhere else in Thailand will be numbered. I think it is unfair to accuse Mr. Woods without full possession of the facts in the case and what may have transpired behind the scenes. In the end, the lady will be sent home with a fine and a foul odor in her mouth of Thailand and its people, and perhaps newfound understanding that an Aussie bar in Phuket isn't exactly what it seems. Shame on that.

The moral of this story: travel to a country rife with corruption and nefarious characters that staff its national police and you'd best watch every little innocent-looking thing that you do while a 'guest' here. This includes how you respond to police and other authorities while in their custody. As we all are painfully aware, Thailand is not such a friendly country to tourists with its rampant overcharging, racist practices and incidents such as this one. And as a race they cannot handle loss of face in any small way, no matter how poorly it reflects on their beloved Kingdom. I enjoy living here, but have learned that there are irrefutable rules that must be followed. Caveat Emptor all.

Edited by Fore Man
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I'm not sure why the police needed to get involved anyway, unless they were acting on a complaint by the bar owners. This is a private matter between the bar and the customers concerned. The police certainly shouldn't have gone so far as making an arrest unless the bar had made a complaint to them about a theft taking place.

Chris

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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 :)

Agreed, usually bar towels and mats are provided FREE of charge by the brewery for promotional purposes, so how can it be theft? The Thais really do know how to shoot themselves in the foot don't they?

Welcome to the land of smiles, not anymore it isn't. Possibly with visitor numbers being well down this bar owner is seeking a hefty compensation in exchange for this unfortunate mothers freedom, wouldn't surprise me at all.

Edited by fredKroket
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I am sure he has the BiB in his back pocket anyway.

Um, well either that or he has shut down his bar years ago. Since he hasn't... well you know how it is in Thailand, you have a bar, you pay.

Unfortunately, the world doesn't look kindly at Thai police loss of face.

In the USA they'd probably have tasered her (taser first, ask questions later), then read her her rights, gave her her call, and released her on bail. In Thailand, no bodily harm but you have to spend the night(s) in a holding cell and nobody speaks english. Different customs :)

There should be some guidelines in the Lonely Planet or something, what to do and what not to do when Police stops you. Because a lot of farangs freak out, demand being read their rights, or get abusive, particularly when they are from countries where you can get away with that, as in most civilized western countries. It's not that hard, all you have to do is smile, nod, and maybe hand over 200 baht. No need to let the situation get out of hand.

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Listening to some similar stories from Australians that have visited the bar before, I for one would not be visiting this bar. Definately another nail in the coffin of Thai tourism(thinking that not too many more nails needed) and definately the death of The Aussie Bar in Patong. I have lived in Thailand only for 18months(8 years in Asia) however I have learnt to keep my head down anf now located in Chiang Mai which is generally away from the main stream tourist area.

Good luck to Annice and her family, they can expect a very long and trying time ahead.

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UPDATE 1.30pm Aussie time:

A MELBOURNE woman facing Thai jail for stealing a bar mat has begged the Prime Minister to help her.

Montrose mother-of-four Annice Smoel says she's “scared, helpless and alone'' and is pleading for the Rudd government to intervene.

She has spent four days in a cramped Thai jail with three other women, described her holiday gone wrong as “totally unbelievable''.

Her husband says the Australian Government is offering little help.

Ms Smoel, 36, is facing up to five years jail in Thailand over the alleged theft of a bar mat from the popular Aussie Bar in Phuket.

Ms Smoel was drinking in the bar with friends when they apparently played a prank on her, putting a bar mat in her handbag.

But the owner of the Aussie Bar, Steve Wood, told 3AW that he believed Ms Smoel had been abusive toward the undercover police who had stopped her in the bar.

“When they talked to her all they wanted to do was chastise her, and they usually let you go, but she did a runner on them ... the police had to chase her down the beach,'' Mr Wood said.

“When they took her back to the police station, she continued to abuse everyone at the police station including the chief of police and I think this is what the problem is.

“It's more of an attitude problem than a crime problem.''

She was charged with a “night-time theft'' and imprisoned for four days.

Mr Wood said he had not pressed charges.

During a telephone link-up from Phuket with reporters, Ms Smoel broke down saying she just wanted to get home to her four young daughters aged six, eight, 11 and 12.

“They are terrified and scared. I've already missed so much, I really want to be a good mum,'' she said.

Asked how she felt, she said “just scared, helpless, alone''.

In the 17 days since her arrest for taking the bar mat from the Aussie Bar in Phuket where she was celebrating her mother's 60th birthday, she has missed one daughter's birthday, another's appendix operation and Mother's Day.

In a plea to the government, she said: “You've got to help me, I have not done anything wrong, this is a crock.''

Her husband Darren has flown to Phuket to be by his wife's side.

“This is a complete joke - the Thai authorities have no compassion and no respect for Western women or the wrongly accused, it's just a joke,'' he said.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said all available consular assistance was being provided, but Mr Smoel says the action of the Australian government and consular authorities had been “nowhere near good enough''.

Ms Smoel's husband Darren said he felt like he was "chasing his tail" in Thailand.

"My journey with them started a week ago and I don’t feel it’s been that good to be honest, I don’t feel that there’s anyone out there looking for us that’s for sure," Mr Smoel told 3AW.

"We have stat decs (statutory declarations) stating what happened and their total innocence here and we really feel the Australian Government should be helping us."

A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed Ms Smoel was arrested on May 3 and charged with theft. A court hearing has been set for next Monday.

The spokeswoman said consular assistance had been provided to Ms Smoel.

"Consular officials from the Australian embassy, Bangkok, and from DFAT in Canberra have provided extensive consular assistance to the woman and her family,'' she said.

Ms Smoel said undercover police in the Aussie Bar stopped her on her way out of the bar. She was then arrested and spent four 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.

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 was in Thailand with friends celebrating her mother’s 60th birthday.

The family had even tried offering money to Thai authorities but that was refused.

Ms Smoel insisted she was innocent of the theft which was committed by a friend who confessed to the police but was told to go away.

“I have been treated unfairly and held here for something I didn't do,'' she told Fairfax News Radio.

“They know I didn't do it, they have video evidence and one of the girls who was 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.''

Police confiscated Ms Smoel's passport.

Mr Rudd says consular officials in Thailand were assisting Ms Smoel.

“I've just been advised about this, the Foreign Minister and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade are on top of this case,'' Mr Rudd told reporters in Melbourne.

“They are providing every level of consular assistance to the family and the individual concerned.''

Ms Smoel is required to report to authorities every two weeks as a condition of bail and it is expected to be 14 weeks before her case is heard in court.

Her lawyer Bernard Murphy says she has been told she could face two to five years' in jail if found guilty of “night-time theft.''

-- news.com.au 2009-05-19

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There seems to be alot more to this!! For sure it looks bad for Thailand, a small fine and it's done would have been the normal procedure---We don't know everything!!!!

Yes but we can take an educated guess. Drunk sheila with place mat in her bag, confronted by possibly drunk undercover police. Loss of face ensues. Sheila goes in holding cell. Could have been much worse for her, if you ask me.

Who did what really doesn't matter. This is the Thai police. What is strange is that now by the light of the day, said woman has not been given her passport back and sent back to Australia. That's the real scandal, and that's what really hurts Thailand's reputation. If they are pissed off enough about her behavior, they should ban her from Thailand for a few years. But not letting her go back makes no sense. Big mistake by Thai police.

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In my days as a bar owner, if I didn't have at least one bar runner or an ashtray nicked every other day, I reckoned business was bad.

Why would undercover Thai police need to arrest a foreign tourist in a foreign owned bar unless they were on the "unofficial" payroll or for extorting money? :)

edit: sp

Edited by Maejo Man
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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 :)

I suspect she was drunk, was abusive to the police, etc. People often forget they are guests in this country, and should treat it and the people with utmost courtesy. I am amazed at the garbage attitude many farangs have toward Thailand. I think they should get out.

I love it here, when in need of help, I've never been turned away. The Thai's have always been honest to a fault, and courteous also. We just need to remember it is easier to catch flies with honey than vinegar.

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Its the ozzie bar on Bangla.. Steve.. Who I am sure doesnt want this publicity or hassle.. This is in the Thai polices hands.

Too late for that, i think he should go down the copshop and demand that he does not want to press charges.

In the end, it's his bar and the mat is his property.

Fellows, The bar owner is NOT pressing charges. Here is part of the article:

But the owner of the Aussie Bar, Steve Wood, told 3AW that he believed Ms Smoel had been abusive toward the undercover police who had stopped her in the bar.

“When they talked to her all they wanted to do was chastise her, and they usually let you go, but she did a runner on them ... the police had to chase her down the beach,'' Mr Wood said.

“When they took her back to the police station, she continued to abuse everyone at the police station including the chief of police and I think this is what the problem is.

“It's more of an attitude problem than a crime problem.''

She was charged with a “night-time theft'' and imprisoned for four days.

Mr Wood said he had not pressed charges.

Her disrespectful behavior is the reason she is being held. Aussies and others can boycott if they want, but I applaud the Thai Police for teaching this ........ a lesson. Behave yourself and you will be treated as an a welcome guest. :)

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

I truly wonder if this was an innocent bar prank or perhaps a well-planned and fully coordinated ripoff operation with selected off-duty policemen. It's happened elsewhere, and certainly is not out of the question. What was the behavior and demeanor of the Australian customers leading up to the incident? Loud, profane and surly or simply enjoying an evening on the town? Could be that the bar management had nothing to do with this but now its blown all out of proportion.

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Great undercover work by the police, the officers involved must surely be up for a promotion now. I for one will definitely be sleeping a lot better at night knowing that the police are finally cracking down on all the bar mat thieves.

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