Marut Puangbanjong was found guilty of two charges against him in a verdict handed down on Nov 12 last year – a year and two weeks after the accident.
Marut was found guilty of one charge of negligence causing death under the Criminal Code, and another charge of reckless operation of a vehicle causing death levied under the Traffic Act.
In possibly one of the longest investigations into a traffic accident by Phuket police, Capt Suporn Mueangkai of the Thalang Police, who led the investigation, took 217 days to bring the charge to court.
All throughout the investigation, Capt Suporn, who was transferred to Sakoo Police Station near Phuket International Airport on Aug 1 last year, repeatedly gave Marut’s family name as Puangsombat.
On finally confirming Marut’s correct family name, in October last year, Capt Suporn told The Phuket News, “I am sorry. I confused the wrong family name with another case.” (See story here.)
Without being provided correct family name, the Phuket Provincial Court and the Phuket Public Prosecutor’s Office both denied any knowledge of the case.
The Phuket News has now been able to confirm that Marut was initially sentenced to four years imprisonment on Nov 12.
However, his sentence was reduced to two years because he confessed to the charges in court.
Of note, the concept behind judges reducing sentences in consideration of suspects confessing to the charges against them is that the confessions are expected to reduce the time taken for the court to reach a verdict.
Although Marut was incarcerated at Phuket Provincial Prison to begin serving his sentence on Nov 12 last year, his appeal for leniency through a reduced penalty was upheld on Dec 9.
His sentence was reduced to two years’ suspended sentence and a B200,000 good behaviour bond.
In total, Marut spent 28 days behind bars.
However, Marut must now present himself at Phuket Provincial Court once a month.
All throughout the police investigation and the trial Marut was allowed to continue working as a taxi driver, picking up and dropping off tourists at Phuket International Airport.
Phuket Land Transportation Office (PLTO) Chief Policy Specialist Praprai Sounkul confirmed to The Phuket News that Marut will have his commercial passenger vehicle driver’s licence suspended for at least three months.
Marut was issued a notice on Tuesday (Feb 18) giving him seven days to present himself at the PLTO. At last report Marut had yet to do so.
“I want him to explain what happened and check his attitude about driving in a public place. If I am not satisfied that he has the right attitude, his suspension may be extended,” Mr Prapai said.