In a stunning development, Capt Suporn Mueangkai of the Thalang Police, who led the investigation into the accident that took 217 days to complete, has now confirmed to The Phuket News that the taxi driver charged with reckless driving causing death is Marut Puangbanjong – not Marut Puangsombat, as consistently confirmed by Capt Suporn for the past year.
“I am sorry. I confused the wrong family name with another case,” Capt Sporn told The Phuket News.
The case has taken so long to bring to court that Capt Suporn has since been transferred to Sakoo Police Station, a post he took up on on Aug 1 this year. (See story here.)
However, Capt Suporn confirmed, “Even though I am no longer responsible for the case, I am still required to testify in court. I have to be informed when I am to do that.”
Now furnished with Marut’s correct family name, The Phuket News has confirmed with Phuket Provincial Court that Marut faces two charges: one charge of negligence causing death under the Criminal code; and another charge reckless operation of a vehicle causing death levied under the Traffic Act.
“Mr Marut is scheduled to appear in court at 10am on November 12 to hear the judgment against him,” an official at Phuket Provincial Court confirmed to The Phuket News.
The official noted that no other details were available in the court registry.
The accident happened while Marut was driving his airport taxi southbound along Thepkrasattri Rd near HomePro Thalang at about 8am on Oct 30 last year.
Marut lost control of the vehicle and wiped out six cars and a motorbike. One of the cars struck by the taxi was rammed through a roadside sign.
The resulting collisions left the taxi upside down in the middle of the road and killing the motorbike driver, 40-year-old Phuket resident Anuson Rattanadilok Na Phuket, who worked at Thalang Hospital. (See story here.)
A tourist was in Marut’s taxi when the accident happened, but escaped unharmed, and immediately returned to the airport to leave.
Marut was 23-years old at the time. The Phuket News has not been able to confirm when he turned 24.
Praprai Sounkul, Chief Policy Specialist at the Phuket Land Transportation office (PLTO), the government department responsible for issuing general and commercial driver’s licences, has already confirmed to The Phuket News that his office is powerless to take any action over the incident until the court has handed down its verdict.
“In a criminal case like this, the PLTO will revoke the taxi driver’s license, but only after we conduct our own review of the incident – and that will not happen unless the court finds him guilty,” Mr Praprai said. (See story here.)
With the PLTO powerless to take action, Marut has been free to drive his taxi, picking up and dropping off tourists at Phuket airport, for the past year.