Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Phuket Bar Crackdown as Brit Dies in Wrong-Way Crash--strict control of alcohol, liquor drinking is needed

By Sert Tongdee and Chutima Sidasathian

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

THE HORRIFIC death of a British tourist in a Phuket motorcycle crash has triggered a crackdown by police that netted at least three expats and raises questions about Phuket's bar culture.

Bars in southern Phuket are now being closed at 2am as a result, police say.

Briton John Stephen Smout, 49, was killed when his motorcycle smashed into a car being driven by another Briton, Michael Downard, 55, about 2.30am on April 23 near the Rawai t-junction in Viset Road.

Chalong police say that Mr Smout had been drinking. Mr Downard, who runs a business on Phuket, told Phuketwan today: ''I was travelling along safely in the left-hand lane when the motorcycle crossed the road and smashed into the right-hand side of my car.

''I really didn't have one second to react. It's tragic. He wiped himself out.''

It is believed others at the bar where Mr Smout had been drinking offered to give him a pillion ride home, but he insisted on riding.

He died on the spot. A crash helmet was found at the scene.

As a result of the fatal crash, Chalong's new Police Superintendent, Colonel Kaitong Jantongbai, ran a no-tolerance alcohol checkpoint near Chalong Circle last weekend.

On Sunday at about 5am, a Frenchman and a Swede riding separate motorcycles and an Australian in a car were arrested for exceeding the 0.5 alcohol blood stream content level, the colonel confirmed.

The three were held in the cell at Chalong police station and appeared in court on Monday to be fined by a judge.

Phuketwan has been told that the Australian, a tourist, was escorted to the airport and flew home early today. The Frenchman was fined 4500 baht and the Swede 2700 baht.

Colonel Kaitong, who recently moved to the Chalong post from Tung Tong station in central Phuket, said that all bars in the area of southern Phuket policed by his station would be closed at 2am from now on.

Britain's Embassy in Thailand is one of the strongest campaigners for visitors to Thailand to obey local laws and remain aware of potential dangers.