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Annice Smoel, outside Phuket Provincial Court

Patong Beer Mat Aussie Denied Disneyland Trip

Thursday, June 11, 2009
THE AUSTRALIAN woman accused of stealing a bar mat in Patong has been denied a US visa because of her Phuket conviction.

Annice Smoel and husband Darren had been planning to take their four daughters to Disneyland to make up for her difficult time in Thailand.

But because Ms Smoel is listed as a convicted criminal, she is ineligble, the Melbourne Herald-Sun newspaper reports.

Although the 36-year-old mother did not feel she had committed the crime as charged, Ms Smoel pleaded guilty to stealing the bar mat from the Aussie Bar in Patong to speed her return home to her daughters.

After her Phuket holiday went horribly wrong, she now she has the added penalty of being denied a US visa.

Her only hope to make the trip now is if Phuket court officials rule in her favor about the seriousness of the crime, the newspaper says.

Ms Smoel received a conviction, a six-month jail term suspended for two years and a 1000 baht fine after she agreed to plead guilty to theft in exchange for her freedom.

Allegedly the victim of friends who stuffed the large beer mat into her bag as a prank, she was eventually given her passport and allowed to leave Thailand after 18 days.

At a meeting in the US embassy in Melbourne on Thursday, Ms Smoel was told her conviction for stealing rendered her ineligible for a non-immigrant US visa.

She could be barred from travelling to the US for up to seven years.

''They told me that normally you have to wait five years after a suspended sentence expires to be eligible for this type of visa,'' Ms Smoel told the Herald-Sun.

''That's seven years away, my girls will be grown up by then.''

If her conviction is for a misdemeanor charge and not a felony charge, she may win a change-of-heart.

''I've got to get all the Thai court documents translated into English and hope the charge is a misdemeanor and not a felony, but I'm not very hopeful,'' she told the newspaper.

Pressure by the Australian Government at the time led to the Smoel case being expedited, with Phuket Governor Wichai Praisa-nob paying the 1000 baht fine himself and apologising to ms Smoel for her problems.

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Comments

Comments have been disabled for this article.

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What a shame - NOT! After her disgraceful behavior and mockery of Thai police maybe she's finally getting her come-uppence.

Posted by Anonymous on June 11, 2009 21:26

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Let's send her a nice Disney-printed bar mat souvenir.

Posted by Philip on June 12, 2009 06:39

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Felony? She was charged with a felony over a bar mat ?
Ridiculous.

Posted by ExPat Cynic on June 12, 2009 08:31

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No sorries here.
You do the crime, you pay in time.
Crime is a serious ( L L M ), Life limiting move.

Posted by Graham on June 12, 2009 08:33

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This ought to discourage more Aussies from visiting Phuket.
Good. Phuket needs fewer drunks hanging out in sleazy bars.

Posted by Anonymous on June 12, 2009 09:48

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She can go to Disney Paris, they are not so stupid in Europe, her visa will not be refused for so small.

Posted by Jean- Paul Patrick on June 12, 2009 09:55

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Denied a trip to the US? She should count herself lucky!

Posted by Chad on June 12, 2009 10:42

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This is a case of "som nam naa". An Aussie Bar employee said they watched Smoel fold up the beer mat and put it in her bag. When challenged by a police officer, she ran away. She later abused senior police officers at Kathu police station. And she managed to get off with a slap on the wrist, not to mention at least 20,000 Australian dollars for selling the story of her "ordeal". Getting barred from Disneyland is the very least she deserves.

Posted by Anonymous on June 12, 2009 19:33

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why fly all the way to the US, and hassle with their idiocies when she can easily fly to Disney Hong Kong

Posted by Will never visit the US on June 13, 2009 19:25

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This almost looks like someone trying to get as much attention/publicity as possible.

Posted by Fritz Pinguin on June 14, 2009 10:39

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Ms Smoels had alibis, she had the Governor vouch for her, she was the victim of a prank, and we all KNOW people cop pleas regularly so as to not have to stay in Thailand for months on end awaiting trial.

I never realized how many western men in Thailand really just HATE women who aren't providing sex to them.

Misogynistic Witchhunts, anyone?

Posted by Kim Elroy on June 14, 2009 12:19

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Hey I heard everyone in Australia's prisons were victims of pranks!

Posted by Philip on June 14, 2009 16:26

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Ms Smoel received a conviction, a six-month jail term suspended for two years and a 1000 baht fine. Not a slap on the wrist, Anonymous. She can be referred to as convict Smoel from now on. Money could not buy her freedom.

Posted by Mouse on June 14, 2009 20:17

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Not coming to the US?
Thank God. All the bar mats here are safe now.
I feel genuinely sorry for the good Thai people for being the special target of seemingly endless numbers of rude Australian and British tourists.

Posted by Brian on June 17, 2009 09:46


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