Duo re-enact Michelle Smith killing
PHUKET: There were emotionally charged scenes this morning close to the Katathani Resort at Kata Noi Beach, when police staged a re-enactment of the June 20 murder of Australian travel agent Michelle Smith on the site where the attack took place.
Tuesday 26 June 2012, 11:29AM
The two accused – Surasak Suwanchot, 26, from Nakhon Sri Thammarat, who is accused of stabbing Mrs Smith, and Surin Tatthong, 37, from Sumat Sakhon, accused of driving the motorbike involved – had to be protected from crowds who gathered, pushing and shoving, to shout at them, “We don’t want your kind here.”
Makeshift placards said, "Local people don't hurt anyone," and "We don't welcome people from outside bringing problems," a reference to the fact that the two accused were both from provinces of Thailand outside Phuket.
Police have said the pair have confessed to the murder.
Looking nervous and guilty, and hampered by handcuffs, the duo went listlessly through the re-enactment as police restrained the crowds, including a large Australian man, who had to be physically held back.
After the re-enactment, Surasak and Surin were bundled into a police van and taken back to Phuket Town.
Police have explained how they had found the two men.
From CCTV footage, officers tracked the movements of the duo backwards from their fatal rendezvous with Mrs Smith until they were seen drinking at a bar some time before the attack.
In the bar, one of the staff remembered the two coming in for a drink, and said that he knew the taller of the two, Surasak, who is 180 cm tall.
On the evening of the murder, he said, the two had ordered beers but had been unable to pay the B300 or so they owed for them. They had said they would be back, and gave him a mobile phone number where they could contact him.
Plainly, the two then went out to find a victim whose money would pay for the drinks bill – police already had them on record for previous bag-snatching crimes.
On Tuesday morning, at the re-enactment of the attack on Mrs Smith near the Katathani Resort, both men apologised for Mrs Smith’s death.
Asked why he had tried to rob her, Surasak said, “I was just having fun. I was a bit drunk and I was not serious about robbing her. The knife was just for cutting the strap of the bag – the bag was all we wanted.”
Surasak said that when they learned that Mrs Smith had died, they decided to split up and make a run for it.
But by this time, police were already onto them.
Staff at the bar had Surasak’s mobile phone number. Armed with this, police were able to use mobile phone tracking to follow his flight from Phuket and, eventually, to lay hands on both him and the driver of the bike, Surin Tatthong.
Surin’s only contribution to the press conference was to say, “I’m sorry.”
Police said both men had criminal records, Surasak for drugs offences, and Surin for robbery and burglary.