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Australian resort owner murdered in Krabi

PHUKET: Krabi resort owner and former long-term Phuket expat Peter Heppell, 57, was attacked and murdered at the bar of his own resort, ‘Melina’s Monkey House and Whale Bar’ in Baan Tha Lane, Khao Thong subdistrict, Krabi, on Sunday (Apr 2).

By Eakkapop Thongtub

Wednesday 5 April 2023, 11:54AM

Pol Capt Tirakorn Thairit from Ao Nang Police Station was informed of the incident by Krabi Hospital on Sunday afternoon, confirming that Mr Heppell had died from his injuries.

Mr Heppell had suffered multiple stab wounds to his right chest, piercing his lungs, and several slash wounds to his right arm.

Police confirmed that the incident happened at the bar at the resort, which is an outdoor area near the beach. Officers found blood on the ground and about 50 metres away they found a 30cm kitchen knife stained with blood.

Peerachat Songsri, 24, a resident of Songkhla province who lived in Krabi, surrendered himself at Ao Nang Police Station for the murder, police confirmed.

Staff at the resort told police that it was lunchtime when the incident occurred. There were no staff at the scene at the time. Mr Heppell was at the bar with some resort guests.

Peerachat came to meet Mr Heppell to talk about outstanding salary for his wife, who had been fired. Staff said they believed that Mr Heppell might have cut some amount from her final pay, making the man angry.

During the meeting, Peerachat ran into the kitchen and brought back a cooking knife. He stabbed Mr Heppell before fleeing on his motorcycle. The guests at the resort rushed Mr Heppell to Krabi Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Peerachat has been charged with manslaughter. He admitted his guilt but has not yet clarified the details of the cause of the murder, police said.

Peerachat is being held for further questioning. Officers will contact his wife also for more questioning, police said. 

Mr Heppell was celebrating his 57th birthday when he was confronted by Peerachat at the resort, which he named in honour of his 6-month-old daughter who died when the tsunami struck Phuket on Dec 26, 2004. 

Before moving to Krabi, Mr Heppell was a long-term expat resident in Phuket. Well known, and well liked, he has been widely described as a ‘larger than life’ character.

He was also a well known Aussie Rules footballer, in his youth playing with North Beach Football Club in his hometown of Perth. Mr Heppell, who also went by the nickname ‘Whale’, was also a founding player for the Tigers Australian Rules Football Club.

“The Thailand Tigers are deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Peter ’Whale’ Heppell. Our thoughts are with his daughter Aly, his family and all his friends,” the club posted on their official Facebook page.

“We all have such wonderful memories of Whale. As one of the original Tigers, he has been a great friend to Tigers old and new. His love for the Tigers was second only to that of his family.

“Rest in peace Whale! The Tigers are poorer for your loss.”

Other messages of condolences and grief have flooded Mr Heppell’s Facebook page since news of his passing has spread.

“RIP Peter - another legend gone. Spent many a good night at the Whale bar in Tha Lane,” said fellow Aussie and long-term Phuket expat Harry Usher.

“Rest In Peace Peter. Will miss you brother,” wrote Jeff Rowe. “RIP dear friend,” said Viktoriya Edmunds. “Oh my god. Terrible news. Thoughts are with Whale’s family,” wrote Tony Carter.

“We are devastated to post that Peter’s life was taken suddenly and violently on his 57th birthday in Krabi, Thailand. Peter will be remembered as a larger than life character, who walked to the beat of his own drum and lived life to the fullest…

“He survived motorbike accidents and miraculously the Boxing Day Tsunami! Peter loved his daughter Aly, the ocean, beer, footy and Thailand. 

“The family is so grateful that we were able to spend time with him recently. Now reunited with baby Melina… Our hearts are breaking,” wrote his sister Karen Bormolini.

Comment on this story

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Hermann1 | 09 April 2023 - 10:43:49

Mr.Burgmann sounds a bit like someone blaming his own failures on Thai's.  Generalizing comments with a derogatory  content are typical for those kind of people. 

DeKaaskopp | 09 April 2023 - 09:18:40

"...we will all be told that it was a suicide or that aussie died of old age" Oh dear, another hater posting complete nonsense. Not surprised he left too.

Mark Burgmann | 08 April 2023 - 17:10:35

@DeKaaskopp Reading the Thai news lifts your spirits. Where else would you find such a fascinating muppet show? 

Mark Burgmann | 08 April 2023 - 17:08:40

@Jimmy888 you are absolutely right. Land of fake smiles, liars, cheaters, and lazy people. I left a long time ago, too. One friend of mine disappeared in Thailand after buying a hotel there and registering it in the name of his Thai wife. Another fell out the window of a 20-story condo after buying a resort for his Thai wife. Coincidence? I don't think so. 

Mark Burgmann | 08 April 2023 - 16:53:55

In a couple of days, when the murder investigation is over, we will all be told that it was suicide or that aussie died of old age. This is usually the case in a lying country called Thailand, where police officers prefer puffy envelopes to jobs, and where lies, hypocrisy and irresponsibility are the basics of "saving face."

DeKaaskopp | 07 April 2023 - 17:17:54

@Jimmy888    Nobody misses you ! Funny you still interested in reading stories about a country you deeply detest.

Kurt | 07 April 2023 - 13:36:04

@ skorchio, why manslaughter? The man didn't arrive with intention to kill. The talks went wrong, he felt unreasonble treated ( taken for a ride about salary pay out wife?) He got a thai eye haze, lost self control, run kitchen , got a knife. Manslaughter. As foreign employer, having a salary matter with thai staff to deal with, handle financial immidiately when you sack them. 

skorchio | 07 April 2023 - 10:53:28

Why the charge is manslaughter ? That is hard to fathom .....

Jimmy888 | 06 April 2023 - 13:43:05

Another cowardly man-child Thai that couldn't control his emotions. Such a revolting race the Thai people are. After 30 years a resident im so happy to be away from that place. Lie-land, Scam-land, call it what you will, but one thing is for sure, they are not good people.

JohnC | 06 April 2023 - 08:43:35

I'd hazard a guess that this guy had drug problems and his wife's final salary wasn't enough to feed his addiction so he snapped. Very normal here when employed by Thais that they cut your first 3 months salary and hold it back as "guarantee' you will stick around. Cutting final salary probably means she didn't finish the full month so her pay was pro rata to the days she ...

Kakka2 | 06 April 2023 - 08:09:59

welcome to the jungle day life...

maverick | 05 April 2023 - 22:48:15

Murder requires proof of pre-meditation - good luck with proving that in this case -  more lazy reporting and headline writing 

Kurt | 05 April 2023 - 13:06:38

Why and how long was there still outstanding salary for the fired woman? Why the husband had to go to ex employer to ask for the money?  And, it is not the first time I read/hear that employers cut on final pay out, or even not pay out at all. Well, when  in such affairs Thai feel to be powerless and treated unfair they can 'explode'. Feel sorry for all involved. 


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