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Australian Women Arrested In Phuket Over Bar Mat


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Correct me if I'm wrong but she was charged with theft of a bar mat, NOT with resisting arrest, threatening officers etc.

you are wrong, because we don't know what she was charged with. just the mainstream dumbass media tells the story this way.

Well all reports are saying she was charged with 'night time theft' so seems pretty likely to be the case. I'll look forward to being proven wrong

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So all this talk of she got what she is deserved is based on conjecture and rumour mainly it seems from the aggrieved bar owner,) and NOT the charges laid. Best to stick to the facts.

More conjecture only this time aimed at the barowner i would suggest. " Lets just stick to the facts ".

ahh no, he wasn't there and said in an interview that he thought it was her attitude problem and abuse etc. So no conjecture coming from me chap.

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Being rude or argumentative with an Ozzie cop is probably a 6 out of 10 on the bad idea scale. Being rude to a Thai cop is a 10 out of 10 on the bad idea scale. It seems she may not have educated herself about this before arriving in this far away country. I hope she gets out soon.

Edited by OxfordWill
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I listened to the 3AW radio interview and the accused (or presumed guilty?) Ms Smoel comes across as a reasonable person. There are many conflicting reports (practical joke, rudness...) but being detained in a country -supposedly renowned for hospitality to guests- for rudeness?!?

Yes, I know this is Thailand, but perhaps the Thais should decide if they wish to be known as a progressive, fair minded nation, committed to the rule of law or a corrupt, third world land of injustice.

Sad day for Thai tourisim...

I would welcome seeing rudeness treated as a crime. Since living in Thailand I have witnesses displays of the most abhorrent rudeness on a weekly, if not daily basis. Spent some time in the Immigration office recently and watched a stream of farang insulting the staff, either with cold sarcasm or angry agression, same in the British consulate. It might be understandable in such places where emotions run high.....but it's the same in Big C, the tyre shop, the Zoo, and on our MooBaan. In all of the cases mentioned, the person concerned has received a polite, smiling response, which seems to inflame them even more.

Like a previous post author, I too find Thai bashing objectionable and unnecessary. Thai people value courtesy, containment, and jai yen (I think...I'm a slow learner!).....they don't allow themselves or their children to indulge in outbursts, displays

of anger..or rudeness......or anything which makes others lose face or feel uncomfortable.......why should they have to accept it from visitors to their country?

"A sad day for Thai tourism"?? I beg to differ.....that day came a long time ago and is repeated everytime a tourist feels that by buying a plane ticket and a hotel room, they have also bought the right to treat Thai nationals as their servants.....stone deaf and stupid ones at that.

I do not look at Thailand with rose coloured spectacles....but if I wanted to live in a place where public rudeness, screaming abuse, sarcasm and getting blind drunk and creating disturbances were part of an average day......I would have stayed at home.

Well, my friend, we can agree to disagrree, OK?

From reading the press reports, Ms Smoel was chaged with "Theft at night."

I agree that some foreign tourists are rude to Thais and that is wrong. When a foreigner is clearly behaving badly, simply deport them and list them as unable to return to Thailand. Punishment should fit the crime and a possible +2 year prison sentence for rudeness is unjust.

Let us not forget that some Thais are also rude and even agressive/threatening to tourists as well.

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As usual with any theme or topic on this site it has quickly degenerated into the usual and boring ‘if you don’t like here then f off’ comments.

Many posters seem so desperate to prove their ‘Thainess’ that any criticism of the country or the people is jumped on.

The irony of many of the points of view is this- She is being vilified for her behaviour, rudeness and running away.

This is also being backed up with support for the corrupt police, judicial system and bar owner (bribes).

People say she acted illegally (which she did) and then offer the simple solution of paying a bribe. Can no one else see the irony in these suggestions?

Either there is law and order with uncorruptable police men, no bribes paid to the police and all crimes investigated fully otherwise its extremely difficult to know where to start (or stop) arresting people.

Do people really think that on this particular night in question this ladies actions were in the top, say, 10% of ‘worst things done’in Phuket? I hear there are other night time activites that are illegal as well, how well is that law enforced?

If the country had a police force that deserved respect it would be shown to them. This has to be earned.

Edited by swindonabroad
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I listened to Steve (the bar owner) today being interviewed by Neil Mitchell on Melbourne 3AW radio station. Steve said that he didn't press charges and is not interested in pressing charges. Steve said the problem was (what he believes as he said he wasn't in Thailand when the offence occured) was that when the police arrived she run off and was apprehended on the beach. She apparently was very abusive to police, including the chief of police when taken back to the station.

Steve also said that now he is quite pissed off as he is looking like the bad guy and is being slandered. He said it is out of his hands as it is beyond theft now. He also said that if the lady had stayed in the bar, returned the mat and appologised the matter would have ended then and there, but she ran and was abusive and disrespectful to authorities. I just watched the news report on TV here in Melbourne and they are making her out to be the victim and now our Prime Minister is getting involved. As far as I am concerned, she should not have been rude, abusive and disrespectful to the authorities - especially the cheif of police. (I am assuming it is true as I have heard from people that witnessed the events). I would like to canvass my entire post with these words - ALLEGEDLY :)

BTW, steve said the mat is worth about A$60

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Lemme see here now.

1 Bar mat or towel from the Aussie bar. Value 250B

1 nice lady in the cross bar hotel for stealing it. Nothing to eat for 3 days? And video evidence proving her innocence.

1 Other lady confesses told to get lost

"There was video evidence in the bar. I was nowhere near the handbag,"

HANDBAG? :)

Something is wrong here part of the story seems to missing along with other items?

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Actions and consequences.

Some people just don't get it.

I agree that ruffling the feathers in the BiB is the worst offense imaginable.

Simon Burrowes would agree.

What's with these people? Ugly farangs giving us a bad name. I wish they'd go to Bali, too.

Edited by Texpat
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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 - >??????

Ohh I have done plenty wrong.. I have spent more time in those cells in Patong cop shop than she has from whats been posted..

But the difference is I didnt cry about it.. I didnt get onto some radio talk show and say "poor little me, I am a mother remember".. No I took my lumps, sobered up, paid my 'fine' and got out.. Learning to keep my mouth shut around 3rd world cops in the process. I dont have some kind of western sense of entitlement to better treatment than the locals get, they get locked up, beaten up, charged for nothing too..

Yes its rough justice.. But the same thing happens to Thais day in day out.. Theres no international outcry then..

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It would appear to me that the Police have decided to keep the " night Time Theft ", charge, just out of spite for her behaviour and as a reason to hold her further . Im no Lawyer, but i believe police in Australia can still press charges even if the victim decides not to proceed.

I wonder how many different states of chronological theft there could be in LoS . Is there a " breakfast theft ",...."afternoon theft " , and theft during afternoon tea but before evening and yet after lunch time theft ???? Could your defence be jetlag, and not adjusting to Eastern Daylight Savings 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.

Sounds like thats what they were trying to do, as per the bars usual MO.. When she did a runner..

Running from Thai cops can get you a bullet in the back.. One recently shot a Thai kid for going through a helmet checkpoint and not stopping !!

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I do believe "shakedown" is the appropriate word in this situation. 20,000 baht and she would have walked free. Now it's going to cost her a lot more to stay here for the court proceedings and end up with a measly 500 baht fine and deportation.

These types of actions by police against tourists have enormous potential for disrupting people's lives in their home countries. Perhaps she will loose her job, maybe her home. Who will take care of her children while she's stuck in Thailand ?

Sad that those involved have no idea of how much harm is being done to Thailand and to the victim's lives by episodes such as this. Those responsible for cleaning up corruption in Thailand are either powerless or couldn't care less.

Not just the police. My girlfriends ex uni friends aussie husband on holiday during Song Kran sprayed a water pistol at a farang who turned out to be another aussie who has been living in Pattaya for 3 years while he was on a motor bike. The other aussie got off and argued before grabbing our friend round the throat to try and throttle him. So to stop him doing this our friend hit him once and broke his jaw. The sad <deleted> then went running to the police. The police wanted to put it down as fighting and let it go and thought the other aussie was a prat for getting upset for getting wet during song kran.

The other guy knowing that they had to get back home to work and the kids for school refused to shut the case unless they paid him Aus dollar 100,000. The case was dropped :) and this wanke_r ended up with nothing after about a week or so .

Maybe, maybe this is the case here and it's not the police looking for money ,but another sleezy tosser looking for an easy pay day.

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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..

Agreed, this is more than about taking a stolen mat, it's more that you're pretty much telling the Thai authority to <deleted>#k off in their own country. I doubt this has anything to do with the bar owner, more that the Thail local officals taking interest in the matter. I agree this is bit too harsh for the lady but what did you expect when you run away from the cops and than insulting them?

What would have happened if a Thai National went to Australia for vacation and got wasted at a bar, stole something and when confronted by Aussie cops, they pulled a runner and than insulted the officers back in the station? As an American, I can say that if a Thai national (Or any nationals for that matter) pull that crap and ran away from police officers here in New York City, they be <deleted>*ked. First the cops would chase them down, taser/mace them, tackle/slam to the ground, cuffed and taken to the station for booking charges. They be charged with resisting arrest, fleeing from scene of the crime, assaulting police officer, and whatever charges the DA's can think off. They be put in jail awaiting bail and eventually be bailed out with most the charges eventually being dropped. They would be fined and kicked out the country. This is exactly what's going on in Thailand except they already bailed her out.

You all know she won't get any jail time from this, but they will do what they can to make an example out of her. Not for stealing a $60 mat, but more that you should respect the authorities especially when you are a guest in someone else's country.

Thailand is still one the best vacation spot in the world, with some of the most hospitable people in the world. I'll take Thailand over Malaysia and Indonesia anytime.

you are probably right,but you forget one small fact,she did not steal anything,and thai police is ignoring her friend who committed the crim,besides that phuket tries to attract tourists,with behaviour like that i doubt they can do

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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.

Exactly.. I am not what you would call close to Steve, simply nodding acquaintances maybe.. But hes been around in that road for a long long time, running a clean and fair biz, and I cant think I have ever heard anyone have a bad word about him.. Considering his time with a biz in that place that in itself is amazing..

The assumption that hes pushing to have her sent to jail is frankly laughable..

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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?

Ohh <deleted>.. So if I give my mate a car, and someone nicks it, its not theft because he didnt have to pay for it..

Grow up.. She stole something.. got caught.. That in itself would probably have got nothing more than a give it back and a warning.. But she then resisted arrest, did a runner and verbally abused the police including the boss at the station.. She made her bed.. Now its time to lie in it.

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UPDATE 1.30pm Aussie time:

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.

Vindication..

So now all those saying boycott the Aussie bar realize this isnt of Steves making I guess ??

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She stole something.. got caught.. That in itself would probably have got nothing more than a give it back and a warning.. But she then resisted arrest, did a runner and verbally abused the police including the boss at the station.. She made her bed.. Now its time to lie in it.

Zactly.

I find the attitudes of the TV apologists more unbelievable than that of the Thai cops.

Edited by Texpat
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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.

according to the news report she was very abusive and ran from the police,,in the usa she would be in trouble just for that and why not?

truly bad folk with warrants run like that ,why shouldnt the thai police deal with it the way they are then?

Perhaps she is just a dummy for running but police gotta deal with allota stuff and get killed all the time in usa by runners,good for them,im tired of drunks running and fking with the thai police like they are monkeys and giving decent farangs a bad name and making it harder for us expats all the time and they go home and laugh about it,,if she had been decent to them like you should be to polite police,which it sounds like they were,there would not be a problem now,,,

Hmmm well usa is not really a good example for normal policemen or fair courts decissions

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Ohh I have done plenty wrong.. I have spent more time in those cells in Patong cop shop than she has from whats been posted..

But the difference is I didnt cry about it.. I didnt get onto some radio talk show and say "poor little me, I am a mother remember".. No I took my lumps, sobered up, paid my 'fine' and got out.. Learning to keep my mouth shut around 3rd world cops in the process. I dont have some kind of western sense of entitlement to better treatment than the locals get, they get locked up, beaten up, charged for nothing too..

Yes its rough justice.. But the same thing happens to Thais day in day out.. Theres no international outcry then..

Well perhaps if more people 'cried' about it the thai justice system wouldn't be quite the corrupt joke that it is now.

Don't tell me Thais and Farang get treated the same either. EVERY time the police see me in a taxi at asoke intersection I am pulled over and thoroughly searched as cars of thais have flown on by before me. How many thais are hit up with "give me 20K and you won't have to go to the police station"

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The facts - there are very few facts actually known about this case.

It seems that all the reports on this case originate from an Australian radio station. Even the online Phuket news link earlier was quoting from an Australian news source - not from any reports from the local police.

As far as I know, the report that she was abusive to the police comes from a quote from the Bar owner, who admits that he was not there at the time. So at least 3rd hand information.

Apparently, she has been charged with the theft of a beer towel/mat, I believe that her lawyer has confirmed that she could face a 2 to 5 year term for the theft. There has been no mention anywhere that she has been charged with abusive behavior or any other crime.

Unless I'm mistaken, the bar staff saw the friend put the towel in the bag, the police saw the friend put the towel in the bag and the friend has been to the police station and admitted that she put the towel in the bag.

From these so called Facts many of you have declared her guilty. Some of you even go so far to say that even if she is not guilty of the theft, she is guilty of something so she got what she deserved. A few of you even back up your theory with the fact that she is Australian. Because shes an Australian in a bar she must be a loud mouthed obnoxious bitch - right?!

Maybe she did raise her voice, maybe she did get frustrated and angry. I'm sure that many people would, not everybody has the impeccable self control that so many people posting here obviously have.

The world media is reporting that a woman has been arrested and faces 2-5 years in prison for the theft of a beer towel; despite the fact that another person has admitted that they were responsible, the police insist on continuing with the charge.

This only serves to make the Thai authoritits look stupid to the rest of the world and I'm sure that many people who can still afford a foreign holiday will be crossing Thailand off of their shortlist.

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Unfortunately, this entire incident has grown out of proportion to a simple bar mat theft.

I am not sticking up for the accused. While I might believe that her freinds put the mat in her bag, she should not have run, if in fact she really did. And she should not have been abusive to the police.

However, let the punishment fit the crime. A night in a cell is more than enough. Even a fine after. But to have her locked up for three days, having her stuck here for 17 days, and having her face up to 5 years in jail is way, way overkill.

The fact that a friend went the next day to confess and was told to leave shows that this has nothing to do with the bar mat. It has everything to do with her mouthing off to cops. This is a matter of face.

And here is where the BiB and Thai authorities are gravely mistaken. The damage this is doing to the entire Thai nation as far as reputation and loss of potential tourism revenue far exceeds the small loss of face any police have suffered by a drunk woman spouting off to them. The total national loss of face, if I can write it that way, is huge compared to the little bit any cop might have, and frankly, locking her up for a night should have reassured the police that they are in charge, they are powerful. No loss of face after all.

This is petty, but worse, self-destructive. This does Thailand not one whit of good. The Thai police need to take a lesson from the police in Hawaii. They realize that the tourist is their livelihood, that their salaries come directly and indirectly from tourism. So when a Chinese or Korean or whatever tourist gets drunk or obnoxious and needs to be restrained, they do just that. Restrain. They may take him or her back to his or her hotel, or at worst, take the tourist to a cell until they sober up. Things are kept quiet. If it is a real serious crime, OK, things go to court as normal. But for petty things, they are bundled onto their plane and shipped out.

I have witnessed this more than once. I have watched a drunk Korean loudly berate the police (I assume he wasn't extolling their virtures) and struggle while he was taken off the beach at night, then bundled into a cruiser. The police were quite professional (of course, with a zillion tourists watching, that may have tempered their actions.) I asked one of the cops from another cruiser what was going to happen to the guy, and he told me the guy was going to be taken back to his hotel, and if he just went back to his room to sleep it off, nothing more would happen.

Locals do not get treated so leniently, and American tourists, while getting treated better than locals, do not get the same breaks as foreigners.

The huge difference, in my opinion, is that Honolulu police understand where their salaries come from and work in conjunction with those who want tourism to grow in Hawaii , while the Thai police tend to be an organization unto its own with little regard for the consequences of their actions.

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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.

Exactly.. I am not what you would call close to Steve, simply nodding acquaintances maybe.. But hes been around in that road for a long long time, running a clean and fair biz, and I cant think I have ever heard anyone have a bad word about him.. Considering his time with a biz in that place that in itself is amazing..

The assumption that hes pushing to have her sent to jail is frankly laughable..

Steve Wood gave a phone interview here The Age newspaper and then said " maybe I will press charges" because he says she is slandering his bar? so he will lose business. Not exactly what is needed in this situation is it? And he wasn't even there but says he heard etc etc...

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Not too long after i first moved here, I had a cop stop me for some meaningless offence and i got mad.

Luckily my wife was with me and grabbed me hard and said very forcibly to me: Don't you raise your voice to a policman here in Thailand, You are not at home. THEY WILL put you in jail for it.

I learned then and there to be respectful even when (often enough) they are in the wrong.

Western rules don't always apply here in Thailand. We are guests and even though we find so much wrong with the country (mainly the police and the tuk tuk drivers for me), we still are guests and choose to be. We have to act our part too.

I don't see how you can blame the bar owner in this case except if you want to charge him for having undercover security watching his bar mats or whatever they are in the first place.

you live here,she is a tourist,and again phuket is a international tourist destination,s oit should have a bit relaxed rules for tourists,if go on like that,they should not wonder if tourists just dont come anymore

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"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.''

this is stupid, the mat is the bars, undercover police ??? what the heck ...if you want to rag on people forget thai people rag on the bag of crap that owns this bar. why on earth would " under cover police " be working beer mat duty in this clown boys bar? burn the bar owner with all these boo hoos and let the sow learn a lesson in manners as well. yelling running? over a bar mat... shame on her .. then shame on the owner for letting this happen in his bar in the first place.

I believe Mr Woods actually pays the top cop to ensure that he always has off duty cops that have a bit of clout available in or around his bar, to my mind a very astute business move. The bar runner (mat) may well have been provided free of charge by a supplier but so are fridges anf fixtures and fittings. It still does not give the punters the right to walk out the door with anything that takes their fancy.

I don't think there is any argument that the Thai justice system is unwieldy and flawed or that there is great folly in abusing the constabulary. People need to be aware that this is THAILAND and the home team owns the pitch, the ball and the referee. Get drunk in Thailand...no problem, get drunk in Thailand, do a runner and abuse the top cop... look out!

Mr Rudd clearly has failed the international diplomacy 101 test yet again, he is so wrapped up in China and the fact he can speak passable Mandarin that he has dropped the ball for the second time on Thailand (the first time when he turned his plane around in Singapore when there were problems in Pattaya).

I feel sorry for the Australian taxpayer who will end up footing the bill for some DFAT functionary spending a few weeks in a five star resort in Phuket so he can be available to speak with the media and tell them that DFAT can not interfere in the internal justice system of other nations and have daily meetings with the woman and her husband. Come to think of it, my government, in an act of compassion, will probably fly the rest of the family to Phuket under pressure from some shock jock on Melbourne radio.

Whatever happened to taking responsibility for your own actions!!

No matter what the outcome, Thailand tourism will suffer a set back as a result of the western media coverage, The Aussie bar will continue to be the most popular bar on Bangla road, The top cop will continue to receive his payments and life will go on.

I am sick of the people that cannot adjust to the way things are done here and constantly complain about Thailand! Either get used to it or leave, simple really. For mine I would rather see the corruption benefit the many, as it does here, than the few (politicians and rich elite) as it does in most western countries.

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As visitors should we have to accept staff being rude to us? I believe we should to a point, we are visitors and Thai culture is not generally an aggressive one - but I think the Immigration staff could do with some customer relations training.

The problem with immigration police is they are poorly paid and they do resent the "rich" foreigners they deal with. It is my impression bribes to immigration police are much less common these days for some reason I don't really understand (better enforcement?) so that probably also annoys them. We have to treat them delicately, as they have so much power over us.

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All I can say is let this be a lesson for anyone whoever considers stealing in Thailand, it doesnt matter how little, a beer mat, a stubby or the cash register. It is still taking something away that doesnt belong to you. For me it is totally disrespectful.

The Aussie bar clearly has signs all over the place advertising for its customers to purchase Aussie bar branded memorabilia. T shirts, caps, umbrellas and yes... beer mats ! Why did she not simply ask one of the staff to buy one ? It would not be much more than a few dollars, more importantly she would not be in this mess.

Anyone who knows the owner Steve will tell you that he is one of the nicest blokes you will ever meet, a real asset to the Bangla entertainment scene and a valued member of the expat community. This will not be in his hands however, if he does have a say he will be trying everything he can to get her released.

I dont believe for one minute that it was a prank, and the story about her being set up by her mates was made up to gain some sympathy and to pass the blame. Stealing from bars is very common in Patong, I have spoken to many bar owners who are constantaly frustrated of having to re-order beer mats and stubbys, simply because someone wanted a free souvenir to take home. And im sorry to say its always the bars that are frequented by Aussies, with the ladies being the worst culprits.

I do feel for the lady who got banged up and I hope she is out by now (probably is) but I also think that she should be made an example of, to show these so called "tourists" that a total disregard of respect will not be tolerated.

Someone being arrested for stealing a beer mat will not be the down fall of Thai tourism, what will be the downfall is pathetic news papers with comments like "Melbourne mother may face up to five years in a Thai jail". There is absolutely no way that this person will spend 5 years in jail for stealing a beer mat. Only a cheap low life news paper would make such a comment !!

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Sorry, Bub, in the USA--where I am from--verbal abuse is NOT a crime and is, in fact, called "freedom of speech" and guaranteed by the US Constitution. But, it's obviously a hanging offense in Thailand.

One of the earliest wisdoms that was taught to me when I arrived in Thailand many years ago, was that -

"In most countries it is a crime to assault a policeman, in Thailand it is a crime to insult a policeman".

I reckon the Bouuroughs case and this one, prove that "wisdom" to be true - as did the Kanchanaburi case with the two British Backpackers and many others cases before and since.

I also reckon all the guide books should have that wisdom in majorly big letters on a page on its own, near the front of the book.

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