Mr Davies was taken into custody after officers raided his home in Moo 1, Kathu, last Monday (Nov 7).
Officers reported finding seven long-barreled firearms, including an AK and an M16, both described as weapons of war. A further 19 handguns were discovered along with what police described as 11 explosives and a large number of bullets of various sizes.
At the home to present to the press the items seized in the raid was Region 8 Police Commander Pol Lt Gen Surapong Thanomjit. Joining him was Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew.
However, long-term Phuket expat Bob Mott has called into question the high-profile nature of the raid. Mr Mott has been operating marine and boat-building companies in Phuket for more than 20 years. For the past 12 years he has been operating Faraway Yachting Charters Co Ltd, a boat charter company set up and operated under regulations of the Board of Investment (BoI).
“Nearly all he [Gareth] had was ordered on Lazada, a Thai online ordering website. Add to that most of what he had that they added in the photos for publicity effect for the police were legal to own replicas that shoot plastic pellets. All there for show,” Mr Mott said.
“The photos had the added effect of being a high profile bust,” he added.
Mr Davies spent just one night detained at Kathu Police Station, Mr Mott explained.
“They called me to come and get the keys to his house and look for his ATM and credit cards. I brought him some food as well,” he said.
“He went to court without representation and was released on B50,000 bail, which I paid as his ATM card would not allow him to withdraw over B20,000,” Mr Mott explained.
“He has to report every 12 days to a local police station. As far as I know he has a couple of charges of illegally owning firearms which relate to the real guns [he had], not the pellet guns [BB guns], which are legal for him to own,” Mr Mott noted.
“He is not selling them. He is a collector and none ever left his house. He had a sand pit in his house that he used to rarely shoot into,” Mr Mott explained.
In explaining the raid to the press last Monday, Lt Gen Surapong said that the arrest followed a tip-off to police, obtained through a complaint filed with Phuket Provincial Court.
Mr Davies, a retired mechanical engineer, sold the firearms and devices online, Lt Gen Surapong said.
However, unlike with other cases reported by police, Region 8 Police have yet to offer a public “clarification” of Mr Davies’ arrest, especially considering nearly all the firearms seized were BB guns.
Mr Mott added that police reporting that sounds of guns being fired in the house had been heard were likely misunderstood.
Mr Davies had recently purchased a nail gun for home renovations. “For the past month he has been using this to tidy up his house by getting things on shelves secured to walls,” Mr Mott said, adding that police confirmed it was legal to have the nail gun.
“The police are after the suppliers from Bangkok who are Thai and they cut Gareth out of the LINE group and disappeared. They are professional criminals selling guns on Lazada. There were two Lazada deliveries while the police were there: one had a near new handgun that the police didn’t know how to cock, Gareth had to show them how; the second delivery had shells, I think,” he said.
“The whole thing is a case of stupidity on his behalf. He didn’t even know how much he had in the house and was actually getting worried about having all the guns and how to get rid of them due to the current police efforts catching people selling and owning guns illegally,” Mr Mott added.
Mr Davies is well known and well liked in Phuket’s yachting community, Mr Mott noted. Mr Davies has been living in Phuket for 35 years.
“He was a major participant in recovering bodies in Khao Lak after the tsunami [in 2004]. He worked with the American government and marines recovering bodies and he worked with a child protection unit stopping children being stolen if their parents had died in the disaster.
“He helped officials also with taking truck loads of water and medical gear with him that he purchased out of his own funds,” Mr Mott said.
“The day in court was his birthday. Phuket Yacht Club staff and many of his friends were at the club the following day to celebrate his birthday. I had collected his two dogs and returned them to him at the club,” he added.
“He also donates to Soi Dogs and Paws,” Mr Mott said.
“Many are trying to help him as he is very well liked in the expat and sailing community in Phuket. His wife died of cancer a few years ago leaving him alone and not long after his knees gave away and he is wheelchair bound.
“About a month ago I had to call an ambulance to come and collect him. He had fallen and could not get to his phone or wheelchair and the dogs were [messing] everywhere in the house. He had been laying there for three days,” Mr Mott explained.
“They took his phone to look for evidence ‒ where they will find none in regards to selling guns. They are holding his passport. There is no date set for a hearing,” Mr Mott noted.
“Basically he was being a stupid farang that should have known better. He’s not a big time crook, but he deserves some support,” Mr Mott concluded.