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Aussies Jenni Thuge, mother Dianne and Rebecca Edgell today

Phuket Tourists Tell of 'Horrible Screams' as Perth Mother is Killed

Thursday, June 21, 2012

All of the travel agents from Perth who were part of the group with murdered tourist Michelle Smith were heading home on a 2.55pm flight from Phuket via Singapore. Six top police from Phuket were present at the media conference at the Katathani Phuket Beach Resort, where the travel agents, on a familiarisation trip to Phuket, were staying. The agents were not part of the media conference.

Original Report

PHUKET: Three Australian women talked today about hearing screams last night as a woman from Perth was knifed and killed in the street outside a Phuket resort.

The women, all from Sydney, plan to take precautions after learning how Perth mother Michelle Smith died in a savage attempt at a bag snatch that went horribly wrong.

Police all over Phuket were today hunting the two young men who murdered the 60-year-old travel agent for nothing and wounded her companion, Lynn Tammee Lee.

Ms Lee and the other travel agents on the familiarisation tour of Phuket were checking out of the five-star Katathani Beach Resort today and heading for home.

Outside the resort today, Jenni Thuge, her mother Dianne and Rebecca Edgell, all from Cronulla in Sydney, told of their shock at hearing the piercing screams as the two women were attacked last night about 10.30pm.

''I heard someone screaming loudly and yelling 'Help, help,'' Jenni Thuge said. ''It was horrible.''

Ms Thuge turns 40 on Saturday and is on Phuket with her mother and a dozen friends for a week-long holiday celebration.

Her mother Dianne said: ''We read the news this morning and were shocked. We couldn't believe that this could happen. Phuket is such a pleasant place.''

Rebeccas Edgell said: ''We've decided to not carry bags just to play safe, although I forgot and brought mine with me just now.''

The women are determined not to let the tragedy of last night ruin their long-planned holiday. ''We read about drink-spiking in Bali and decided to come to Phuket instead.''

Her mother added: ''These things can happen in Parramatta Road. We just feel so sorry for the poor woman. But it's hard to blame Phuket.''

The mood was sombre inside the busy resort in just one corner of the lobby as the travel agents prepared to head straight back to Perth. They were reluctant to talk to the media and grieving for their companion.

Elsewhere, though, hundreds of guests enjoyed the swimming pools or headed for a walk along the Kata Noi beach. Resort managers said the Katathani is full and about 80 percent occupied by Australians.

Australian honorary consul Larry Cunningham was meeting with police and the tour group in private, with a media conference promised for 2pm local time.

Local Saitong Jankeaw, aged 40, sells popular pappaya salad close to the point where Mrs Smith collapsed to the ground last night with a long knife slash to her heart.

''My husband Mr Preeya heard the screams. We were afraid to go out to help, it was so loud and frightening. I asked him whether we should go out but he said 'Maybe it's better not to go.''

Phuket Police Colonel Boonlert On-Kang, who is heading the investigation, said today that teams of police all over Phuket were hunting for the Honda Wave motorcycle identified as the getaway vehicle.

Phuket tourism authorities fear a turn-off by visitors, especially from Australia, unless the killers are apprehended quickly.

The Tourism Authority Thailand is in ''deep shock and regret'' following the death of an Australian travel agent in Phuket, a spokesman said today.

Public relations manager Pongsak Kanittanon told e-Travel Blackboard that the tourist bureau considers agents its ''closest friends'' and will ''try their best'' to locate and arrest the two attackers.

''This incident affected a group of travel agents who we consider our closest friends, who help us to promote the destinations in Thailand,'' Mr Kanittanon said.

''As a National Tourist Office, we will closely monitor this situation and raise this incident with the higher authority in Bangkok to make sure that something like this will not happen again.''

Mr Kanittanon went on to send his deepest condolences to the family of the victim and prayed for the speedy recovery of the second agent injured during the incident.

''We sincerely hope that the local authorities will try their best to arrest these two attackers and try to bring back the confidence and safety to Phuket.''

The passing of the Australian travel agent has sent shockwaves through the entire island of Phuket and our travel industry, the TAT said.


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Most of crimes in Phuket are done from Thais people registered in other provinces.
As Thai law has no compulsory law making Thais to register in a province for working or staying on long-term period, this is the open door to badly-intentioned law-breakers.

With over 1 Million people in Phuket, including 350,000 natives, most of the 700,000 extra Phuket residents are not registered properly with the local administration; so any of them is able to make a crime, and to flee to another province for a while.
The question is when Phuket Province will register and will control the too many unregistered workers before it is out of control?
Time is money and some decision-makers must act the sooner the better.

Posted by Whistle-Blower on June 21, 2012 11:35


Absolutely shocking, this is going to be a hard hit on tourism..

Posted by poppops on June 21, 2012 16:06


Is there death penalty in Thailand for such a crime ?

Posted by Resident on June 21, 2012 18:05

Editor Comment:



Well put, Whistle-Blower! That is an old reality which Phuketwan Ed. has akways wrongly criticised. Probably he needs to change his oculist!
Ed, convince yourself: this is Phuket and its Thai people who live or are coming to live in!
TB 300 minimum monthly wage, is just
something but not enough for living.
Thai education method and system are
obsolete: they don't give any valid and constructive education to young Thais. Thai social organisations say only what people have to do but don't give them the instruments to do it! Living on the road is the best experience of young Thais: they learn how to face life cost of living and difficulties.
Family education in the poor social level, doesn't exist! Phuket you are like a developping country which makes a step longer than its legs! Better you'd think about (without considering Phukewan Ed. objections and opinions, because he has got a particulat idea of democracy: that one which led him to do journalism in another country; probably his country didn't want him anymore! )

Posted by Coralie on June 21, 2012 18:20


Good points WB.

Posted by GiantFan on June 21, 2012 21:03


Street crime can happen just about anywhere, but unfortunately it clearly seems to be on the rise in Phuket. Add this tragedy to other Phuket issues like the almost daily drownings and the Tuk-Tuk nonsense, and first time travelers will surely begin to look elsewhere!

Posted by Steve L. on June 21, 2012 21:53


The only way to protect tourists and the public is for the island to employ more police which has been long overdue.
It's obvious with only a vital few, perhaps working up to 12 hour shifts, that Police resources have become stretched and as a result have become reactive in responding to crime rather than pro-active.
With more police on the beat; the dead beats would probable disappear.
In the end, the root cause of the problem comes back to how much money is spent on public risk prevention.

Posted by Kermit on June 21, 2012 22:08


@ Kermit.
Not even reactive mate.!

Posted by innocent bystander on June 22, 2012 11:42


I presume the three smiling Australian ladies pictured above had forgotten about the "horrible screams" that they had heard just hours before they were photographed.

Posted by Buster on June 22, 2012 22:15

Editor Comment:

Like most people, Buster, they can remember, but they move on. Would you prefer to be fixed in your facial expression by the last sad event that happened to you? Life is not a movie. Get real.

Friday December 8, 2023
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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