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Australian Women Arrested In Phuket Over Bar Mat

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Another foreign tourist arrested, jailed in Phuket

PHUKET: According to a story released this morning by AAP, Australia's national news agency, a Melbourne mother of four is facing five years in a Thai jail after allegedly "stealing" a bar mat ['coaster'] from a Phuket pub.

The report says 36-year-old Annice Smoel was arrested by undercover police as she left the Aussie Bar in Patong on May 3.

She says friends had put the bar mat in her handbag as a prank, but the undercover police working in the bar found the mat and arrested her. She spent two nights in a four-metre-by-four-metre jail cell.

"I had only just picked it up … had a quick look inside and saw there was something in it," she said.

"I was nowhere near the handbag – one of the girls involved went down to the police and confessed and apologised, and they told her to go away."

Ms Smoel, who was in the country to celebrate her mother's 60th birthday, has been stranded in Thailand for the past 17 days after police confiscated her passport.

She said she was hanging in there, but wanted to get home as soon as possible to see her four children, aged six, eight, 11 and 12.

If she is found guilty, Ms Smoel faces between two and five years in jail, the AAP report says.

Ms Smoel is now stranded in Phuket as the police have seized her passport pending adjudication of the case. It is understood that her husband has returned to Melbourne to look after the couple's children.

The incident follows the arrest and incarceration for 3 weeks of British national Simon Burrowes earlier this year after he had spoken "rudely" with an Immigration officer at Phuket International Airport. He was finally found guilty of the offense in court and fined 500 baht (approx US$ 14.28).

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-- Phuket Gazette 19/5/09

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terrible........... Thailand has a big "tourist campaign" after they keep doing this sort of stuff they had better increase the budget...... somehow they dont realize their "come to Thailand" commercials are mostly seen by people already here and not in the rest of the world and their bad publicity is seen world wide

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

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

Sounds to me like not even the real jail.. Just the cells a couple of nights while they sorted her bail..

Jail...sounds more like a bloody holiday camp. The cops have to snuff out this kind of crime, if not what next thing to get nicked from bars? glasses? sauce bottles? vegimite?

Bout time all those Aussie politicians and talk back whingers butted out and let the Thai rule of law sort the situation. :)

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What is funny is that Steve Wood, the Aussie bar owner is also guilty of theft.

He has illegal sattelite tv from Papua new Guinea that broadcasts the NRL and AFL in his bar.

He discussed it openly.

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

Why would he want to steal something that is free to air? Australia Network (ex ABC) broadcasts at least 4 AFL and 2 NRL games into SE Asia - India etc every weekend. PSI is one provider in Thailand there may be more!

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What is funny is that Steve Wood, the Aussie bar owner is also guilty of theft.

He has illegal sattelite tv from Papua new Guinea that broadcasts the NRL and AFL in his bar.

He discussed it openly.

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

Why would he want to steal something that is free to air? Australia Network (ex ABC) broadcasts at least 4 AFL and 2 NRL games into SE Asia - India etc every weekend. PSI is one provider in Thailand there may be more!

Aus network popped up FTA on Astro recently too..

But of course easier to start blaming Steve for this mess..

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The thread's going a little off track with debate on satellite TV.

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.

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You drink there?

Very un-australian and his business will suffer now he has done this, you think aussies will continue to flock to his bar?

He could have easily sorted it out without having her charged, he knows the legal system sucks here and is draconian but he put her to the sword.

I would not be surprised if someone relieved him of a few teeth over this.

It was his property and his bar he chose to press charges over it, plain and simple.

BiB's could not care less about a shitty beer mat.

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Seriously bad move, if the national government has any sense they will order her passport returned and pay for her flight home immediately, regardless of what the Aussie bar owner wants. I bet a few of the local dirt mucking foreign journalists are already writing up some juicy stories.

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

What a Joke.

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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,.

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You drink there?

Very un-australian and his business will suffer now he has done this, you think aussies will continue to flock to his bar?

He could have easily sorted it out without having her charged, he knows the legal system sucks here and is draconian but he put her to the sword.

I would not be surprised if someone relieved him of a few teeth over this.

It was his property and his bar he chose to press charges over it, plain and simple.

BiB's could not care less about a shitty beer mat.

Why is Steve at fault.. You think he needs this hassle ?? You think he 'had her charged' ?? where do you get this info ??

The articles say he wasnt there.. The police acted, she got arrested, gobbed off, and is now paying the price for it.. Drunkenly running off from Thai cops ?? Gobbing off at the chief of police.. This is Steves fault now ??

As to your idea of Aussies stopping drinking there ?? I will take that bet..

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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..

Edited by LivinLOS

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Hi

Steve should get out and tell us whats going on, come on Steve i know you read this

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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..

It doesn't matter. Thailand has a very bad reputation in the world. Detaining a woman over this, even if she resisted arrested, makes Thailand look even worse in the eyes of the world.

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