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It's all over: Annice and Darren Smoel embrace today

Freed Aussie Mum Says: 'I'm So Glad It's Over'

Wednesday, May 20, 2009
Updating Phuketwan Report

TRAPPED Australian tourist Annice Smoel is free to fly back to Australia and her four children.

Her court appearance, scheduled for Monday, was accelerated to this afternoon on Phuket.

To expedite the case, she pleaded guilty to a theft charge over the incident that saw her passport confiscated and put her briefly in a cell.

She was fined 1000 baht (A$38), which was paid by the Governor of Phuket, Wichai Praisa-nob.

He intervened in the case after receiving telephone calls earlier today from Thailand's Ministry of Tourism and the Foreign Ministry.

Annice and her husband embraced after the case. When we talked to her at the court and asked her what was happening, she said: ''I think I am going home.

''The Governor is waiting for my passport now. He has been very gracious.''

''I don't know exactly how it all happened today. I think it was probably a combination of my lawyers here, my lawyers in Australia and my government and the Thai government.

''The Governor has apologised to me and been very kind. He seems like a lovely man. He has really looked after me.''

Her husband Darren, who flew to Phuket after his 36 year old wife was charged with stealing a beer mat from the Aussie Bar in Patong, said: ''It's turned out good . . .finally.''

Mr Smoel continued to take telephone calls as his wife wai-ed the Governor and the Tourist Police who had escorted the couple from their hotel to Phuket Provincial Court.

Governor Wichai said he felt very sorry for her and considered she was not at fault.

He wondered why the Australian owner of the Aussie Bar would allow a dispute to develop with a fellow Australian.

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Comments have been disabled for this article.


In Melbourne she would have had the charges proven and dismissed & a slap on the wrist. The Thai government should stand firm and not be dictated to by the Australian PM Kevin Rudd. Send a strong message, jail her & any other Australian fools who break your laws.,22023,25505077-2862,00.html

Some of the comments:-
please remind these people who they rely on for their livelyhood and support when they need relief funds due to naural disasters, which they have lots of...I am all for do the crime pay the time, but pleez just bring her home , RUDD...
Posted by: toni spinlla of melb 6:12pm today
Comment 635 of 650

Isn't it about time that Australians learnt their lesson, started voting with their feet and avoid these squalid little asian country's on our holidays? Like Indonesia, Thailand's legal system is third world and their police financially and morally bankrupt, all they are good for is shaking down the thousands of prostitutes plying their trade there, lucky prostitution is not the crime that mat theft is. Perhaps the Australian Embassy should just pay the graft required and bring this womans nightmare to an end.
Posted by: John Taylor of Ballarat 1:05pm May 19, 2009
Comment 58 of 650

for God sake, that is only a bloody mat.....what is wrong with u Thai Police?? We Australian are your way of living there..If australian stop going there u will get hungry...Send her home...It is just a bloody souvenir mat.. Wake up ..
Posted by: Dolores Prack of Melbourne,Australia 4:52pm today
Comment 599 of 650

Posted by craig of melb on May 20, 2009 17:24


Classic solution that saves face all around. Good to hear of a happy ending!

Posted by AL on May 20, 2009 17:32


Hats off to the Governor for turning the ugly situation around. We're all human and we all get a bit annoyed at times. That doesn't mean things have to really get out of hand. Again, my hat is taken off to the Governor of Phuket for his swift action and generosity of paying the fine.

Posted by Noddy on May 20, 2009 18:23


Australians like her are an embarrassment to the rest of us. What a pity the Thais backed down as they feared it would affect their tourism. All it does is send a message to idiot Aussies that they can misbehave and expect to be rescued by the Australian government putting pressure on the Thai government.

Posted by George Andrews on May 20, 2009 18:49


George Andrews, how old are you? 5 years or so?! Where is your common sense? I don't know the exact details of the affair, but even if the woman did steal the mat, so what?

The bar owner should be grateful that she and her party spent money there and give the mat to her! Did you ever take an ashtray or a pen from a hotel?

Should you go to jail for that? Grow up!!

It is the idiots like that bar owner that ruin the tourist trade. Boycotting his bar may a good lesson for him!

Editor: So are you endorsing petty thievery? If the car is small, does that count? Every law, across every culture, reinforces the common sense notion that theft is a crime, no matter how small. The only place where ' What you can get away with' is tolerated is Wall St.

Posted by Richard on May 20, 2009 19:42


the next time they get hit with another tsunami, you can be sure i will not be donating. yes taking the mat was technically theft but use your discretion

Posted by hannat on May 21, 2009 03:17


Being corteous with the police in the first place, after all this was a civil matter, would have saved a lot of face. Instead by being an arrogant Aussie, probally raising her voice, and waving her arms, she became a threat to public safety, that's why they arrested her.

Returning the item, and paying a tip to the police for their trouble is the way these types of things are solved, not running to the Australian PM.

Posted by Michael of Adelaide on May 21, 2009 07:46


This one is about "Richard" "George" is entitled to his beliefs. Stealing Richard is Stealing no matter the size or value of the object. Just because we trivialize the offence in Australia does not mean every other nation should.

The theft of property as souvinirs from businesses adds significantly to their operating costs. I know because I am in the hospitality industry in Australia.

I have long since given up reporting the theft of items to our police as they do nothing unlike the Thai authorities who acted.

The Bar owner an Australian employs local staff he is responsible for their and their families survival, in the grand scheme of things the SMOEL woman could have paid for the bar mat, a lousy $60 AUD for an Australian to fork out then thought she should be treated differently.

Your comments and the comments of others who are heaping negativity and vitriole on the THAI people over this incident is offensive to them and all law abiding Australians . People such as yourselves would better served remaining in Australia as you do the genuine traveller no service with your behaviour and attitude.

Posted by Adrian Thomas on May 21, 2009 11:22


About Adrian, I am greatful for the lecture on ethics! Unfortunately, you have missed the point completely. I did not advocate STEALING, what I was saying is that to create an international upheaval over a lousy bar mat ($60? was it silk embroidery?! give me a break!) it is crazy.

Furthermore, I did not critisise the Thai police, they did what they had to do after the complaint was lodged. I said that the bar owner needs to grow up, urgently! If he was that fond of his bar mat, I am sure it could have been resolved the problem without creating an international incident!

The action of Phuket Governor and Thai tourism Minister speaks volumes for their common sense!

As far as your hospitality business is concerned, if someone takes a souvenir from you - add the cost of it to their bill, rather that scream for police. Little wonder Australian police ignore people like you. They have more important things to attend to!


Posted by Richard on May 21, 2009 12:49


To Richard Taylor of Ballarat I would like to say that your comment is an absolute disgrace! You obviously know nothing about Thailand and its beautiful and kind people. You obviously concentrate on a small area of problems created, by the way, by westerners who come here to satisfy their needs and treat locals like dirt. Perhaps, you are one of them? Shame on you!

Posted by Richard on May 21, 2009 13:02


Richard you miss the point of this regarding the theft of items of any value from any business be it a supermarket department store or your employer even. All those little things that people steal for whatever reason cost somebody something at sometime.

If you take an item stolen from a department store and add that item to the total number of goods stolen that adds to the companies insurance costs and the cost to the retail public.

In the case of the bar mat it is my understanding that it costs $60 AUD in the case of the Aussie Bar owner if he were to lose an average of one a week that would equal about $3120 AUD or 83,000 Thai Baht a signifcant impost to the business and ultimately his clients.

On the subject of my screaming for police I don't. As for the items that are stolen (souvenired) from my establishment from time to time they have been far in excess of $60 AUD that is not souvenir hunting its theft.

The Governor and the Thai Tourism Minister may well have shown sound judgement and goodwill over the issue but they also undermined their police as a result of undue media and Political interference from Australia.

That's the last I have to say other than get off your indignant hi horse about this woman's detention and whether people with an opposing view are entitled to express one.

Posted by Adrian Thomas on May 21, 2009 14:35


".. paying a tip to the police for their trouble is the way these types of things are solved, not running to the Australian PM."
Posted by Michael of Adelaide"

Yeah, "Corruption" this is called.

Posted by Steve Green on May 21, 2009 21:56


Enclosed some good facts from the Royal Thai Consulate in Sydney, helpful reading for all hot-heads.

Dear all,

The Royal Thai Consulate General appreciates your comments and concern about the case of Annice Smoel who was prosecuted in Thailand for the act of theft and would like point out some fact and opinion as follows : -

1. Many people misunderstood that Annice Smoel was sentenced to 5-year imprisonment and sent their complaints to the Embassy and the Consulate General. In fact, the Thai court has found Annice guilty in the act of theft and then sentenced her to 6-month imprisonment and 1000 Baht fine. The imprisonment came with one-year suspension which means that she will not serve 6 months in jail unless she committed any other crime in Thailand again in the course of 1 year from now. According to the Thai Criminal Code, the act of theft is an offence with 5-year imprisonment as maximum penalty. The sentence for Annice's case is much shorter than the maximum penalty since the court has also taken the level of seriousness of the crime and the value of the stolen object into consideration.

2. It is unfortunate that the incident between Annice and the bar owner who are both Australian could not be resolved among them, and eventually had to be brought to the Thai court.

3. The case against Annice has been conducted with transparency in accordance with procedures as provided by the law, as should be if a similar case occurs in other countries. She has been accorded her legal rights.

4. For those who feel that Thai law is ''harsh'' or ''draconian,'' it is noteworthy that under the Australian laws the maximum penalty for the act of theft is 10-year imprisonment. (while it is only 5-year under the Thai laws) A person who commits the same offence will be brought to the same legal process in Australia, regardless of the nationality.

5. The consulate expresses its sympathy to Annice and her family for this difficult situation. However, the humanitarian aspect and the legal aspect should be treated as two separate issues.

6. There are always people who have different views in the same story. Please spend a few minutes to read comments in the website of the Herald Sun and the Daily Telegraph that came from your fellow Australian who might share totally different opinion from you.

Posted by Wolfgang Meusburger on May 22, 2009 13:02

Sunday June 23, 2024
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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