Dealing With The Police – My Experience
Reading the submission "Dealing with the Police" nudged me into submitting my own story along similar lines.
I was unfortunate enough to get embroiled in a destructive relationship with a Thai girlfriend, which lasted for two years.
Anyway, towards the end of the relationship (August 2002), I was having the usual row with my TGF outside her family home near Lad Prao. Things were getting rowdy when a young, drunk Thai guy rode passed on his motorbike with his girlfriend as passenger.
Of course, upon seeing the heathen farang arguing with a Thai "lady" he stopped, and proceeded to shout the threatening odds. I, being particularly wound up at the time, didn't shy away, as I'm sure he hoped I would, and we both began a drunken tussle, which ended when he pushed me away and ran in the opposite direction.
In my attempts to entice him back to continue our discussion, I (totally ignoring the apologies of his TGF) proceeded to remove his motorcycle's mirrors and throw them at him. Unfortunately, this failed to produce the desired effect so I picked his bike up (I'm 50% drunk and 50% running on adrenalin) and throw it a good few feet.
Ok. I know that what I did was totally stupid. However, I felt that, apart from the damage inflicted on the totally innocent motorbike, it was pretty much six (cans) of one and half-a-dozen (bottles) of the other.
Well, I think that there must have been a football match in the area at the time because, despite the late hour, a large group of locals appeared, along with quite a considerable number of members of the local constabulary.
Several "I Police Thai, I Police Thais" later, I realised (obviously much too late), that I was indeed in the presence of the plain-clothed Thai Police and the enthusiastic crowd were not exactly on my side. My TGF appeared to be doing precious little to aid the situation and, when I suggested that we go to the police station to "sort it out", I was summarily handcuffed and thrown into the back of a pick-up, to the cheers of the baying mob.
Back at the station, I was taken into an interview room, along with my TGF, the Thai guy and his TGF and what appeared to be a high(ish) ranking police office. I wasn't completely aware of what was discussed until I was taken to the cells. It was then that the gravity of the situation struck me. The cell was about 12 feet square with a hole in the corner purporting to be a toilet.
Initially, I was placed in a cell on my own, until another bigwig appeared, apparently niggled by the "special treatment" the farang was receiving and had me moved to another cell. There were already an assortment of residents already occupying the cell along with various insects and a couple of hundred mosquitoes. It was now about midnight and it appeared that this would be where I was spending the night.
After a night, totally without sleep, and another day in which my TGF was, apparently, trying to find out exactly how much money would get me out, I was released at about midnight the next day. The non-refundable bond (read bribe) was 15,000 baht.
The following months saw lots of trips to the police station and money changed hands on several occasions. Firstly, 8,000 baht to the guy whose thumb was apparently broken (it must have been so painful for him to ride his motorbike to and from the police station) and several thousand more to the "I my friend you" policeman, who was in charge of my case. His promises about what was going to happen was "nothing", and his unflinching support were so reassuring, so much so that when I had to go to court on 23rd December, I was not at all worried. I had (finally) got away from the nutter (ex-TGF) and was with a wonderful new lady, who accompanied me to court. However, despite his promises to speak at court on my behalf and the money which I had given to him to guarantee it, my "best friend me" did not make an appearance.
I've never had any real dealings with police either here or back in the UK, so I didn't know what to expect. I arrived at the court building in plenty of time (my appearance was, so I was told, scheduled for 10 AM). I had been told by "my best friend me", that I would be given a 2,000 (ish) baht fine and would be free to go. So I entered the courtroom with few worries. The entire room was caged inside, which, I reassured myself, was for the other people's benefit and not mine. A steady stream of other "villains" came and went during the day and, after waiting patiently for a while, I began to worry.
It was shortly before 4 PM (yes, I'd been there since before 10 AM), that a judge entered and my name was finally read out. Checking that I wasn't being admonished again for crossing my legs, I stood to face the music.
I didn't understand anything that was said until a woman poked her head out of a hole in the glass separating the good guys from the bad guys, and beckoned me over. She said, "The charge is assault, do you understand?" I replied in the affirmative and she asked if I had the "Bond". Hmm. Now I was worried. I asked, "What bond?" and she said, "You must pay the bond or go to prison now. We are not sentencing today. Sentencing will be on 28th January." I looked towards the door and saw my TGF looking at me, shrugging her shoulders and looking totally bemused. She didn't know what was going on either.
Well, sure enough, I was taken to the court's holding cells, from where it is possible to communicate (across a 15 foot gap), with people waiting outside. By now I was in total panic. I was calling to my girlfriend who was running around trying to find out what was going on and how much it would cost to get me out.
She returned shortly with the news that the "bond" was 150,000 baht. I hadn't got it of course and I was thinking about how I could get it when my TGF added, "But double for a farang" Sh*t! Find 300,000 baht or spend over a month in a Thai prison.
I remained in the holding cells, talking (across the gap) with my TGF about what we could do. She left at 7.30 PMand I was taken, handcuffed and in chains, to the low security prison at Namwongwan, where, after politely refusing the warmed-up left over slops, which had obviously been thrown out of the back of a bad restaurant, I proceeded to have my jeans converted into shorts.
A short time later, we were escorted to our cell, where all the new guys (about twenty or so of us) were given instructions by the cell prefect. I picked up on some of it – you're men, don't cry etc.
I suppose, thinking about it now, that the conditions were not as bad as you might expect, this being barely more than a third-world country and all. Apart from the fact that, as you would imagine, you share the dining room with rats the size of cats and the most edible things in there are the cockroaches.
After spending (not sleeping) my first night on a cold, tiled floor under a huge ceiling fan and lights that are permanently on, I arose at 6 AM, feeling pretty low. Everyone was ordered outside and there followed the "outside shower in freezing
cold water / new boys get their arses out on parade" procedure, which was not the most comfortable thing I've ever done.
The next couple of hours were spent milling around the courtyard, talking to some of the (many) farangs who were in there, being asked by almost everyone for cigarettes and being complimented on my white skin and shapely arse (thankfully, that's as sexy as this story gets).
Afterwards, the new guys were taken through the administration / medical check / “you, you where you come from?” rigmarole (where I was given the rather dubious nickname of "Beckham", reflecting my home town and it was shortly after this that I was informed I had a visitor. I had to wear a blue shirt, which signified to all that I was authorised to walk to the visitor's meeting area, a building within which you go into a small cubicle and your visitor is in an opposite cubicle, separated by wire mesh and a couple of feet of space.
Upon seeing my TGF, whom I had known for only a few weeks, I broke down, as did she. Her cousin, a genuinely nice guy, was also visibly upset.
I was fully expecting to remain in prison for the entire 30 odd days until the sentencing, as I didn't think it possible that my TGF could possibly raise the 300,000 baht within that time. Well, to my absolute amazement, my TGF said that they had managed to obtain, overnight, 230,000 baht. 230,000 baht in one night! I couldn't believe it. Maybe I would get out soon. I told her that I had a check in my wallet for 25,000 and the names of some people who might be able to help. She gave me some money (via the officials – yes some went missing, but we got it back later), to buy food from the "tuck shop" in the prison, as I certainly didn't intend to eat "in house". They bought me some cigs and left to try to get the rest of the money.
The rest of the day was spent talking with the other farangs about prison life and "How come you're in here?" type conversations. Just out of interest, two European guys were in for swindling and were awaiting deportation, a Yank (English teacher) was in for being caught with (but apparently not using) a false passport, caught with drugs was another favourite and the one farang who arrived at the same time as me said he was totally shocked to be in there, something to do with a bad business deal. He was confident that "his people" would have him out that evening.
At 6 PM everyone had to return to their cells and the new guys were moved to a different cell. Although this cell held about 50 guys, it was much smaller than the first. We had to surrender our cigarettes and lighter etc, as the authorities were apparently worried about a fire. Everybody was organised into sleeping positions rather like sardines in a tin but with less sauce. I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, but relieved that I hadn't been raped yet. I'd eaten something from the tuck shop and had water and biscuits to see me through the night. The toilet was at one end of the room, on a dais so everyone could see you having a crap, if they were that way inclined. I gave it a go (crapping, not watching).
The head guy in this room seemed really a decent chap. He spoke English quite well and he told me that, if he had admitted his guilt in court, he would've been out by then, but he wasn't guilty and he would not say he was just to gain his freedom. Admirable.
Well, a little later, a couple of guys came to the cell and were talking with the head guy about whose bonds had been paid and would be released shortly. I thought I heard them whisper "Beckham" and, sure enough, when the official came to the cell to collect the released prisoners, my name was called along with the other farang and several Thai guys.
I don't think, unless you've been in a similar situation, that you could understand the feelings I went through at that moment. It was all I could do to hold back the tears so I didn't appear like a complete child. My smoking materials were returned to me and I proceeded to give all the cigarettes and lighters away to some of the guys who had talked to me during the day.
Actually getting out of the prison involved several ID checks by a range of officials as you work your way closer to the door. Eventually, after about 2 hours of checks and what have you, I was finally released into the waiting arms of my TGF and her cousin, at about 10 PMon Christmas Eve. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, the best Christmas present I've ever received.
Looking back, I still can't believe that they got 300,000 baht in one day. I can't believe that my TGF did it for a farang guy she'd known for only a few weeks before he was put in prison. An amazing lady and proof that not all Thais are just looking out for number one.
I was very worried when I returned for sentencing on 28th January. Mainly because the bond was so high and they would've kept me inside for over a month had my TGF not got the bond. A farang lady friend went with me, and my girlfriend stood beside me during the hearing. I picked up on some of what was said i.e., "six months, one year, two years", which was worrying, but my TGF reassured me that everything was ok. I replied, "Yes" when asked if I'd been a bad boy and then it was all over. I was given a six-month sentence suspended for two years and one year's probation and, unbelievably, no fine.
That was almost two years ago. I've continued to live and work here, but now I'm very aware that my freedom could be taken from me at any moment and there would be little or nothing I could do about it.
So, the next time you feel like losing your temper or getting involved in something which may attract the attentions of the law, think first.
Now that's a harrowing experience, but what about your girlfriend! What an absolute darling. It might not be a reason to marry her but boy, she sure deserves to be given one hell of a nice opresent after the way she looked after you.