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British Coroner deems Phuket backpacker hanging ‘accidental’

PHUKET: The British Coroner has ruled the death of 26-year-old British backpacker Abigail Brown, found hanged by a bedsheet in her holiday accommodation on Phuket on Jan 7, as an accidental “death by misadventure”.

death, accidents, police,

The Phuket News

Tuesday 16 May 2017, 10:08AM

The ruling, reported by UK national newspaper The Mirror yesterday (May 16), overturns the conclusion by Chalong Police, who deemed Ms Brown’s death as suicide. (See story here.)

Ms Brown from Plymouth, England, returned alone to her room on Phuket’s famed Muay Thai street Soi Ta-iad in Chalong at 3:20am after an argument with her boyfriend James Brum at the White Room nightclub on Bangla Rd, Patong.

Some three hours later, at 6:20am, Mr Brum returned to the room to find Ms Brown hanged from the door of the room by a bedsheet. (See The Phuket News original report story here.)

Although Coroner Samantha Marsh insisted that Miss Brown had put the bedsheets around her neck, she told Portsmouth Coroner’s Court that she did not believe that Ms Brown intended to kill herself, reported The Mirror. (See story here.)

She added that she was aware of the report by the Chalong Police deeming the death as suicide.

“In terms of conclusions, suicide is one options open to me on the evidence that I have heard. In order to record that conclusion I would have to stay to a high standard of proof. I would have to be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that Abi intended to take her own life,” Coroner Marsh told the court.

“With what you have told me I am not satisfied that that is what she intended to do. I don’t think suicide is a satisfactory conclusion to record today because I don’t believe that beyond all reasonable doubt that that was what she intended to do.

“From what I have heard I am going to record a conclusion of misadventure.”

Ms Brown’s mother Jane Rowlands supported with the ruling.

“I believe Abi undertook a risk, and that was the risk of putting something around her neck but I don’t believe Abi intended the consequence of what she did,” she said.

“It’s a complete waste of what seemed like a very, very promising, happy life ahead for Abi and James together as parents and you as future grandparents of four boys running around you.”

Mrs Rowland added: “We will always be saddened by the death of our beautiful daughter Abi. There is no one to blame for this moment of folly.

“But there is a lesson to be learned. When young people travel to these hot exciting places with cheap and un-regulated alcohol they need to look out for each other and always stay safe.”



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Christy Sweet | 20 May 2017 - 19:52:00

The Other Woman. What other bruised body found in a pool were you referring to? 

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ukwarrior | 20 May 2017 - 09:39:13

@Theotherwoman. Extensive warnings are issued for Thailand travelers on Gov.UK, including the following. Few bother to read them. 
"Alcohol and drugs can lead to you being less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment resulting in accidents, injuries, robbery, assaults and lost travel documents. If you drink, know your limit. Drinks served in bars overseas are often stronger than those in the UK. Some British nationals in Thailand have suffered severe psychiatric problems because of drug use, resulting in some suicides."

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TheOtherWoman | 18 May 2017 - 23:53:42

Christy Sweet, interesting that you assumed my comment about 'the young man found floating in a pool' is referring to Luke. You are wrong about warnings those wanting to travel to a warm destination, they are not warned, enough at least. TAT spends Billions each year to promote the country, a country that relies on tourist money. Not enough is said and with TAT providing fantastic vacation packages to Travel Agents from all over the world those agents promote willingly to their countrymen.

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Kurt | 18 May 2017 - 20:57:37

@ Pauly44. You are right! Investigating the scene of such a death is up to police, as long it are not the boys in brown who giving a ticket for driving without driving license, and than you may drive away again.
That are guys not having the skills and no clues.
In normal countries there are special educated and trained police detectives who investigate such cases.
And indeed, the coroner doctor determines mainly cause of death.
In Thailand it seems common that death of a foreigner should be shuffled away as quick as possible with whatever the police feel to say.
Just to get rid of it. Body back to home country. Case closed.

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Pauly44 | 18 May 2017 - 19:15:22

Jor 12; Police investigate, present the facts and the coroner delivers the finding based on the evidence provided, they DO NOT determine cause of death! The British coroner was privy to all the facts & evidence of the case from the police / embassy reports and was not convinced beyond all reasonable doubt she "intended" suicide, you must consider all the facts including age, social status, past substance abuse etc. etc. I'm not saying it wasn't, merely saying I tend to believe the Bristish coroner over the RTP which BTW couldn't investigate their way out of a paper bag! It's not always clear cut and while she unfortunately passed from her own actions she may not have been intending to, get it? Also just about every reader with the exception of the wacky comments from Eagle disagrees with you on everything you say, so the odds are stacked against you.

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Jor12 | 18 May 2017 - 16:29:19

Pauly44...I wish you would get something right for a change. It is certainly the job of Police to investigate deaths in suspicious circumstances, (or a certificate can be issued by a treating Doctor as to the likely cause of death)...not a coroner - who by the way is a legal practitioner not a "medical professional" as you state. If that was the case, why didn't the English Coroner come to Phuket to investigate the death? 

Police findings are submitted to the coroner who hears the evidence and issues a certificate indicating cause. Coroners findings are routinely challenged, as I stated, particularly when Insurance claims are at stake. As other posters here have rightly indicated, alcohol and a dispute with her partner, clearly make the coroner's finding "the understatement of the year." 

You can think what you like, but there is always legal oversight on Police findings and as I said, even the legal profession has oversight, which is why appeals are common.  

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Christy Sweet | 18 May 2017 - 12:24:00

That Other Woman- The young British lad's demise of  Jan 08, 2016 was attributed by RTP as accidental drowning after climbing about on a shack, tumbling off  into a pool and drowning and despite the best propaganda efforts of a group convinced  an alleged mass murderer was responsible and still loose, no evidence was ever presented that contradicted the official finding. (It was also on Koh Tao, not Phuket.)
US authorities do warn visitors of how dangerous Thailand can be- unfortunately, many- hell bent on partying til they..well, drop-  do not heed warnings.  

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ematt | 18 May 2017 - 11:50:37

A woman hangs herself with a bed sheet and posters here want to blame the Thai police.  Classic.

And a coroner in another country (who was clearly not at the scene) describes it as, um...  "a misadventure".  I would say that is probably the understatement of the year.

And then we have the poster that wants to Boycott Thailand, because because home governments do not warn young travellers that if they visit Thailand for vacation and hang themselves with a bed sheet, there is a risk that the local police might label it a suicide. As opposed to, you know, a misadventure of some sort...

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ThatOtherWoman | 18 May 2017 - 09:22:49

Common place for Phuket, particularly Chalong Police, to view every incident as a 'suicide'. Death is so common on the island that people who hang themselves with their hands tied behind their back is a 'suicide'. The young man found floating in the pool, bruised body, is a 'suicide'. Any and all Police documents can be manipulated for a fee. Thais know this, farangs should. When our countries of origin do not warn young people of the reality of Thailand then we are at fault. Thailand will continue to coverup what they perceive will reduce their income from tourism. Boycott Thailand.

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Pauly44 | 18 May 2017 - 07:15:22

Jor 12, It is not the job of the RTP to determine cause of death that is the responsibility & function of the coroner who is a medical professional, I would trust a western over local version anyday. I certainly wouldn't be relying on anything the RTP would be saying, it's been well documented in the past they've been way off the mark many times and just say the most obvious assumption at the time as they could care less.  

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