British expat arrested after suffering severe injuries attempting to stop a fight

Published:  27 Aug at 6 PM
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Tagged: UK, Thailand, England
A British expat living in northern Thailand was on a visit to his Thai wife in Pai, north of Chiang Mai, when he was set upon by a gang of Thai bikers.

During his visit, Luke Thornton was sitting by the side of the road with a few of his Thai friends when three Thais on motorbikes drew up and began revving up their engines. His friends' complaints about the noise angering the bikers, and when Luke pulled his mates away he was viciously attacked by the Thai men. During the attack, the bikers beat him with heavy sticks with nails pointing outwards, smashing his face and legs and screamed they would kill him. When they’d beaten and kicked him into unconsciousness, they rode away, leaving him for dead on the road.

An ambulance was called, and the unconscious Brit was taken to Chiang Mai’s private Ram Hospital, where he was diagnosed as having a fractured eye socket, fractured skull, broken finger and other injuries. Hospitalised for two weeks, he received facial reconstruction surgery as well as operations on his fractured skull and finger. His left eye socket had been smashed, necessitating removal of the eyeball and replacement by a silicone sheet until the eyeball could be reinserted. Costs of his care amounted to £7,500. Adding insult to his serious injuries, he was then arrested by Thai police for fighting. By then, the three attackers had also been arrested.

Should Luke be convicted, he faces a £10,000 fine (375,000 baht) as well as a prison sentence. His passport has been confiscated, leaving him unable to return to the UK and see his children, whilst his family and friends have been forced to start a fundraising page to cover his lawyer’s costs and his hospital bill. After their arrest, the thugs justified their actions by saying Luke needed to be ‘taught a lesson’ for daring to interfere in a fight between ‘grown Thai men’. For potential expats as well as holidaymakers, it’s an illustration of the dark underbelly of Thai culture and its intolerance of non-Thais.
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