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Phuket Provincial Court, where Stevie Bamford was sentenced

Phuket 'Tuk-Tuk Rape' Case: Aussie Woman Goes Free on Bail

Tuesday, June 19, 2012
PHUKET: An Australian woman sentenced to 15 days in a Thai jail after she confessed to lying to Phuket police about being raped by a tuk-tuk driver is free on bail, Phuketwan has learned.

Bail of 50,000 baht was granted on Friday, the same day that Stevie Bamford, from Sydney, was sentenced in Phuket Provincial Court.

Officials at Bang Jo detention centre and Phuket Prison confirmed today that Ms Banford was not being held in either institution.

Court sources have since told Phuketwan that Ms Bamford, aged 21, is free on bail for 30 days, during which time she can appeal the original sentence if she chooses.

Ms Bamford's term was to be served in a Phuket detention centre rather than Phuket Prison, the judge ruled on Friday.

It is believed her Australian passport is being held by Patong police at Kathu Police Station.

Phuketwan has obtained a Phuket Provincial Court document in the Thai language which accurately summarises the case.

Ms Bamford originally told police on June 10 that she had been raped by a local taxi tuk-tuk driver with two accomplices but when presented with irrefutable security camera evidence, eventually confessed to lying.

The court statement says relating false information to police in the Phuket holiday town of Patong would have carried a penalty of one month in jail.

The penalty was cut in half, as is normal in such cases, when Ms Bamford pleaded guilty.

''Such a lie could have had a serious effect on Phuket's tourism industry,'' the court document said. ''The sentence was to set an example so that others will not act in the same fashion.''

Bearing in mind her age and the good relations between Thailand and Australia, the original term was to be served in Phuket's rural Bang Jo detention centre, where other young offenders are usually housed.

After the original court hearing, bail of 50,000 baht was granted and Ms Bamford was allowed to go, pending an appeal within 30 days.

For two days of intense questioning over a total period of nine hours, Ms Bamford maintained her story of being raped by a tuk-tuk driver as she tried to return to her Phuket resort after a Saturday night out in Patong.

She had Australian consular assistance for the entire period of questioning. Phuket's only woman police officer was also with her for the interviews.

It's understood Ms Bamford has since been presented with a bill for blood tests undertaken by Patong Hospital as part of the rape case investigation.

Her motive for lying, police said, was because she was overdue in returning from Patong's nightclub area to the resort early on a Sunday morning and afraid her boyfriend might be angry.

Her boyfriend, having provided support through her allegation of the tuk-tuk rape, was shocked to learn Ms Bamford had been lying.

However, a Phuketwan reporter on Friday noted a young man consoling Ms Bamford on a bench at the Phuket court building as she cried on his shoulder.

Her case has been the most-talked-about involving an Australian tourist on Phuket since the ''beer mat bandit,'' Melbourne mother-of-four Annice Smoel in 2009.

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