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Thasnee Kesselheim: content now that justice has been done

Phuket's Road Rage Killing: Sea Eagles Man Jailed

Thursday, January 13, 2011
PHUKET'S sea eagles man has been sentenced to 13 years and four months' jail for killing a German expat resident last year in a fit of road rage, Phuketwan has learned.

The 66-year-old expat resident and the sea eagles man continued their traffic dispute by wrestling outside a 7-Eleven store in southern Phuket and in the scuffle, the expat was stabbed to death.

A judge at Phuket Provincial Court handed down the sentence on Pittaya Srijitraporn, 33, on December 16, said Thasnee Kesselheim, whose husband Wolf-Dieter was killed.

Mrs Kesselheim remains sad about the tragedy, but relieved that justice has been done. The original sentence, she said, was 20 years in jail, but the presiding judge reduced the term by one third because Pittaya admitted the killing.

He pleaded that he had acted in self defence. Mr Kesselheim, a much larger man, had been holding him in a headlock at the time. However, the judge said that in pulling the knife and stabbing Mr Kesselheim twice in the ribs, Pittaya went beyond self defence.

The killing on January 27 last year shocked both expat residents, tourists and Thais on Phuket. Pittaya was well known as the sea eagles man who posed his two large birds for photographs at Kata Viewpoint, with seascapes over Karon and Patong in the background.

Khun Thasnee, 53, said there is a civil case pending. She hopes to recover the 80,000 baht cost of her husband's cremation, but she has no plans to pursue Pittaya for more substantial financial compensation.

''My husband's death was such a shock,'' she said, sitting in the peaceful garden of the home the couple shared south of Phuket City.

''He had a lot of German pals and every Wednesday he would have a Men-only night. He would head out after having one gin and tonic, and play snooker with friends in Rawai.''

That night, Mr Kesselheim's regular companion on the road south was picking up another friend from abroad, so Mr Kesselheim made the journey alone.

Pittaya told police and the media later that as he approached Chalong Circle about 7pm that Wednesday night, with two nephews as pillion passengers on his pink Fino motorcycle, a car driver sounded his horn when the motorcycle passed.

At the circle, while both the motorcycle and the car waited alongside each other for other vehicles to pass, the car horn continued to sound. The driver of the vehicle swore at him through the open window.

Pittaya said both the motorcycle and the car turned around the circle from Chao Fa Road West into Viset Road, bound south for Rawai.

The tooting continued from the car, until Pittaya pulled his motorcycle in front of the car, forcing the vehicle to stop outside a 7-Eleven store.

The man had been drinking, Pittaya said, and swore ''F---- you'' in English. Pittaya said he hit the man in the mouth.

The man tried to hit him back, Pittaya said. The man got him in a headlock, so he pulled a knife from his pocket and stabbed the man twice in the ribs.

When the man fell, he kicked him in the mouth, Pittaya said. He acted alone and his nephews had not been involved.

Khun Thasnee finds it hard to believe that Wolf-Dieter, the kind, loving man she met 20 years ago in Bangkok and married in Germany, could have lapsed into road rage.

But she does say that he certainly did get angry about the behavior of others in traffic.

''We had a very pleasant life together,'' she said, sitting in the grounds where her husband did the gardening virtually every day. She runs a shop there, serving fruit drinks and shakes to teachers and students from a neighboring school.

She talks with passion about how she and her husband began visiting Phuket from Bangkok about 10 years ago, and how they bought the house four years later, when he retired from his job as an executive in aircraft sales.

She's still in regular contact with Mr Kesselheim's two grown-up daughters, who were regular visitors.

The anniversary of her husband's death is fast approaching, but at least justice has been achieved.

And Wolf-Dieter's treasured garden remains all around her. ''I plan to stay here,'' she said. ''My friends come to visit. I do still wish that my husband was still here, though, to enjoy it with me.''
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Phuket Expat Killing: Sea Eagles Man Charged
Latest A man well known by tourists on Phuket for his sea eagle photographs at Kata Viewpoint has been charged with the murder of a German expat in what appears to be an incident of road rage.
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Phuket Expat Murder: Three Youths Arrested
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Comments

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Condolences to Khun Thasnee.
A bit of bad karma for keeping sea eagles and the other birds he had in a cage or on a leash.

Posted by Vfaye on January 13, 2011 11:24

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I'm happy to see Pittaya in jail. What he did to not only the White Belly Sea Eagles but Bramany Kites by clipping their wings was the same as amputating human legs.

I had a polite ongoing battle with him to stop for years, and he just laughed and showed me a bogus Forestry Department permit that said it was "OK to keep the eagles because they were "stolen from their nests".

Condolences to Khun Thasnee.

Posted by Anonymous on January 13, 2011 15:15

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I guess he will know how his birds feel now.
Time to reflect about life chained up or having wings clipped.
Condolences to Khun Thasnee

Posted by lord Jim on January 13, 2011 16:13

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Hope now the birds will no longer suffer at anyone's hands again. I tried to get him stopped six years ago, was warned off.

Posted by wellington on January 13, 2011 16:15

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Think his family is still pimping the birds.

Posted by Vfaye on January 13, 2011 19:26

Editor Comment:

It's a tragedy for both families. ''Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.''

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First of all Condolences to Khun Thasnee, I'm sure we all share her grief.

This report is welcome news to resident expats. It reveals that justice sometimes can be achieved. Good to see this person incaserated.

I am curious Mr.Editor, as to why it has taken nearly a month after the result of the courts decision to bring this to the notice of the general population. Not being critical merely observant and inquisitive.

This is one of the rare instances that we have seen a reported outcome of a very serious crime committed towards a foreigner. Are most of the others "work in progress, on the back burner" until everyone forgets ?

What is he progress on the Aldhouse case for example or the beatings by the Tuk Tuk drivers on innocent people.

Without published results, though not as headline grabbing as the original story, there is a follow up audience especially by those who as tourists may consider returning or may wish to regard the place as the wild wild west but without a Sheriff and thus no law and order and holiday elsewhere.

Posted by innocent bystander on January 13, 2011 20:37

Editor Comment:

Good questions, innocent bystander. Phuket's Police Commander now recognises the need for transparency in cases involving expat residents and tourists and provides regular quarterly updates on deaths and arrests. In doing so, some - but not all - of the myths about expats and their treatment have been demolished. However, tracking cases through the courts remains time-consuming and difficult. Lawyers are not always cooperative, prosecutors are busy people. We were fortunate to learn of the outcome of the sea eagles case. We wish we had the resources to do more. And if you wish to contribute your 20-year subscription in advance, perhaps we could even afford to do more.

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Driving standards here are awful - Thai and Falang, but that does not justify stabbing someone in the chest twice (though I must confess, I've felt like doing the same many times).
Jai Yen Yen folks...........

Posted by john on January 13, 2011 22:06

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A minor point, but your story helps to perpetuate the fallacy that one can view Patong from Kata View. The view one can see is of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon beaches. (Patong is geographically impossible to see from the viewpoint.) A petty point, I know, but one which is repeated in far too many guide books and should not also be repeated in one of your leading articles. All the same, good to see justice being done reasonably quickly on this occasion.

Posted by Ping on January 15, 2011 21:14

Editor Comment:

Yes, you're right.

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Thanks for the update!

Posted by peter rawai on January 15, 2011 21:27


Friday December 15, 2017
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