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Phuket jet-ski crash: Aussie tourist Keating pleads guilty, reduced sentence, expedited trial likely

PHUKET: Australian tourist Thomas Keating yesterday accepted a plea of guilty to the charge of reckless driving causing death for the jet-ski accident last Sunday that killed his girlfriend of two years, Emily Collie, 20, in a move that police say will expedite proceedings against him.

By Yutthawat Lekmak

Friday 10 February 2017, 12:33PM

Thomas Keating (in blue shirt) during seven hours of by Karon Police yesterday (Feb 9) entered a plea of guilty to reckless driving causing death. Photo: Premkamon Ketsara

Thomas Keating (in blue shirt) during seven hours of by Karon Police yesterday (Feb 9) entered a plea of guilty to reckless driving causing death. Photo: Premkamon Ketsara

Mr Keating was formally charged at Karon Police Station yesterday, with strong support from his family as well as from the family of Ms Collie. (See story here.)

“During the seven hours while investigators questioned him, he accepted a plea of guilty,” Karon Police Chief Col Sanya Thongsawad confirmed to The Phuket News this morning (Feb 10).

“In his statement to police, he explained that on Sunday Feb 5, 2017 he and his girlfriend rented jet-skis at Karon Beach,” Col Sanya said.

“A big wave surged while they were zigzagging, causing the two jet-skis to collide,” he explained.

“Mr Keating was very sad while recounting all this to the investigators,” Col Sanya said.

Explaining the seven hours taken to question Mr Keating, Col Sanya said, “When we were first questioning him with his lawyer, he rejected the charge. At 12:30pm, we took a two-hour break for lunch.

“He returned with his lawyer at 2:30pm and during the following three hours he accepted the charge,” Col Sanya said.

Col Sanya noted that the guilty plea is now very likely to expedite the case through court.

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“Now that Mr Keating has accepted a guilty plea, this case will go through the courts within two weeks,” he said.

“Accepting the charge is a good thing, because the sentence will be reduced,” he added.

However, Mr Keating’s case will not be in court for at least a week, Col Sanya noted.

“Mr Keating will not go to court until all the documents from Karon Police have been sent to the Public Prosecutor, who will draft an indictment to the court and then the court will call Mr Keating to trial,” he explained.

“This will take at least eight to nine days,” Col Sanya said.

Mr Keating has been emotionally devastated by the accident. On Monday he posted on Facebook, “I’m so broken and I know I'll never never be able to mend ... I'll always be your boy and you'll always be my girl! We had so many plans for our future Emmy.”

Ms Collie’s family this week issued a statement to the media expressing their strong support for Mr Keating.

“This was a tragic accident. We do not believe anybody was at fault. In particular, we do not place any blame on Tom Keating, who we care about very much and who we know loved Emily deeply,” said the statement, issued by Emily’s parents, Ian and Sally Collie.



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Christy Sweet | 11 February 2017 - 18:17:22

While police have their procedures one wonders if charging a person in what is clearly an accident is really  serving justice? If this man is exonerated, no harm done but if he is convicted, and sentenced, no matter if suspended, he may well suffer consequences of this unfair judgement for the rest of his life. Being unable to visit many nations, including The USA comes to mind.

Willy Walsh | 11 February 2017 - 14:27:54

If Mr Keating had not accepted his guilt he would have been stuck in Phuket, unable to leave Thailand for a year or more waiting for a hearing. Sounds like the Police and his lawyer explained this to him.

All very sad.

Concerned | 11 February 2017 - 08:12:05

Sad enough story. Let the guy go home to grieve, it was apparently an accident. 
Ban Jet-Skis from public beaches. Only allow them in a special assigned safety zone, preferably on a not used tin mine lake, overseen by professionals and the authorities.- 
PS. Assume in a car accident they would get off with a small fine like recently read Phuket taxi driver fined B400 for reckless driving in high...

Farung Accident | 10 February 2017 - 16:03:07

If it involves 2 Thai's, its called an accident and most probably will result in a 400 baht fine.

If it involves foreigners, its an opportunity that will cost far, far more!

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