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Andrew Clements leaves Phuket Prison after 12 harrowing days inside

Phuket Aussie Expat Free: Pedophile Case Dropped

Monday, June 14, 2010
AN EXPAT teacher who was accused of child molestation has had the charge against him dropped. Now he wants his life back. ''The psychological damage of being falsely labeled a pedophile is enormous,'' Andrew Clements said today.

As the first step, the Australian wants official permission for him to hold a passport restored by Australia. Rather than presume he was innocent until proven guilty, the Australian government stripped him of his passport by letter while he was being held in Phuket Prison, awaiting a hearing.

But he now has the actual passport, which was being held by Thai authorities.

He has always maintained that the charge against him was ''totally unfounded and fabricated.'' But apparently his own government preferred to believe otherwise.

While spending 12 days in prison, the 50-year-old teacher was subjected to an extortion attempt by other expat inmates and a threat that he could be killed in jail if he did not pay up. He paid up.

As well as knowing that he was innocent of the charge, Mr Clements had to face the fact that two newspapers in his home state of Tasmania carried the news of the charge against him, displaying it prominently.

Now he wonders whether they will carry with equal prominence reports that the charge has been dropped.

News that the allegation had lapsed for lack of evidence came to light today when Mr Clements presented himself at Phuket Provincial Court, expecting to have the formal hearing against him begin.

He was asked to wait, and about an hour or so later, he was told the good news. The case would not proceed.

''It's a huge relief, but it's still sinking in,'' he told Phuketwan today. ''I will be having a juicy steak and a bottle of red tonight and just relaxing.''

Mr Clements lost his job at an international school on Phuket and the claim of molestation followed. School authorities issued a statement making it plain that there was no link between the two events.

Putting his life back together may not be easy for Mr Clements. ''I don't know what to do,'' he said.

''I have been without a job, living off my own funds since the charge was made back in March. I have had the wonderful support of my Thai partner, but I may have difficulty finding a job here.

''Once you have been labelled a pedophile, your reputation has been tarnished forever.''

Mr Clements hopes to be voluntarily given back the money extorted from him by fellow inmates at Phuket Prison, and does not wish to press charges against the men involved if a settlement can be mediated.

He is less sanguine about the letter from the Australian government, telling him that his passport had been cancelled.

He wrote a letter in response, and was informed in a second letter that he could appeal via the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in Australia, but it could take months and would only begin with payment of a fee of $A682.

He still has the passport, despite the letter. The passport contains his current Thai visa, and he wonders whether, despite his innocence, despite the case being dropped, he will now be asked to pay for a new one.

Comments

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Nothing amazes me regarding the attitude of Australian bureaucrats.The culprit could well be at the embassy in Bangkok hiding in a cupboard.

Posted by azzagood on June 15, 2010 10:29

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This is great news! I hope his reputation will be restored as close as possible to it's original. Andrew is one of the best teachers I know and I hope all the best for him and his partner! I hope that Phuketwan.com and other media alike take down the original articles!

Editor: Why would we do that? Phuketwan's account of what took place at the time remains accurate. Fortunately, it's history now.

Posted by Matt on June 15, 2010 12:07

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If you don't want to pull it down, perhaps adding a comment on the original article that he is innocent? Seems simple.

Editor: Like most things, never as simple as it seems. Once you start repairing the past, where does it end? With history being rewritten, perhaps, which is not desirable. Life is a constant Phuketwan update, and it's as accurate as we can make it, day by day.

Posted by Macky on June 15, 2010 12:41

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Happy that Andrew is out.

The news that the Aussies have cancelled an INNOCENT man's passport is disgraceful. Absolutely disgraceful. They should hang their heads in shame. And i hope that this news makes it to the media in Aus and Tasmania.

Posted by Mr Man on June 15, 2010 14:32

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Perhaps incidents like this could have the Editor reconsider the implications of publishing the names of alleged foreign criminal offenders.

I doubt it though.

I have yet to see words like "I was wrong", "I'm sorry", "I agree" or "I stand corrected" to be written by the Editor.

We are all sometimes wrong and as opinionated as I may also be, I'm certainly the first to admit being wrong.

Just some food for thought.

Editor: You need to learn a bit more about the media and what's good and bad. Unlike many other publications, Phuketwan admits errors of fact when we make them. Reporting charges when they are laid, and reporting when there is no evidence to support those charges, is what good news organisations do everywhere. It's called ''accurate reporting.'' We have nothing to apologise for. But if you don't want to know what's happening, don't read Phuketwan.

Posted by Amazing Thailand on June 15, 2010 18:13

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I guess it is good news. Hopefully he will get his money back, as he had to waste enough time on this. The revoking of the passport, I am sorry, I liked it. This measure may help a lot of kids in third world areas against sickos from Australia.

Hope my country do that as well, but I doubt it. But now, as the charges were simply dropped, he should get back his right for a passport without a lot hassle.

One last thing, leaving Phuketwan constant and great follow up reports (exceptional work) aside: Only if Mr. Andrew will not get over this humiliation and do commit suicide after an amok rampage, the same Australian newspapers who put his name and face up front, will do the same good reporting with face and name and space again. Otherwise I doubt it.

Posted by Lena on June 16, 2010 00:59

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Congratulations Andrew !!!!
It was good to see on Tasmanian Television News last night that they reported your story and the fact that you were innocent. WELL DONE

Posted by Don on June 17, 2010 08:25

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Obviously the Australian government thought there was something to it and perhaps some information we don't have access to.

Editor: No. That would be contrary to justice systems in both Thailand and Australia. The Australian Government was simply treating one of its citizens as an outcast, for no good reason.

Posted by Benjie on June 18, 2010 20:44

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I don't understand the need to cancel his passport anyway. It's not as if you can use it while you're in jail. The Australian govt is supposed to offer assistance to all its citizens regardless of where or what the trouble is. Some assistance! Either way the passport should be re-instated just as quickly as it was cancelled.

Posted by Antz Pantz on June 19, 2010 00:47


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