Sunday, 12 September 2021

Gun boast backfires, uncle aflame, help for brave duo

Family heirloom turns deadly


A hot-headed father’s boast that he could do whatever he likes with his son’s life was to end up costing his own.

After a drunken argument over a loan, the father threatened his son with a handgun, a family heirloom. The two grappled over it and the young man said it fired accidentally, killing his dad.

Police found Akkradech Choophong, 23, in a shocked state in his father’s large Thai-style wooden house in Village 1, Bang Pa-in, Ayutthaya, on Tuesday. The shirtless body of his father, Wiroj, 53, the village headman, was found slumped nearby, shot in the back of the head with a 9mm handgun.

Mr Akkradech said he and his father were drinking alone the night before and started arguing over an outstanding 200,000 loan which his father wanted him to help pay off. His father had taken out the loan to do up his imposing home.


When Mr Akkradech said he was unhappy about paying, the two started to argue. His father grabbed a gun and threatened his son with it. He struck his son over the head with the weapon, fired it once out the window, and declared: “You are my son, I’ll kill you or do whatever I want.”

Mr Akkradech, who family members say is normally deferential and reserved, punched his father in the head. He said he was scared his father would act on the threat, and tried to wrest the weapon from his grip. The gun went off accidentally, he said, hitting his father.

Wiroj, shot in the nape of the neck, fell to the floor. Mr Akkradech, scared and guilty about what he had done, initially told no one about the shooting. He took shelter in his bedroom for the next 11 hours while he regained his composure.

The next morning he called his mother and asked her to come around. When his mother, Suphanan, 62, arrived she found Wiroj’s body and sought help.

Somkiart Choophong, 58, the victim’s elder brother, who turned up to comfort his nephew, said he was worried about him.

“He is a deferential type, always offering a wai to elders. I am concerned he will blame himself, and regard it as a sin that he will have to bear for the rest of his life,” he said. Wiroj, he said, inherited the weapon from their own father when he died in 2011.

The young man’s mother, Ms Suphanan, said she had to console Mr Akkradech for ages before he opened up about what happened.

“Wiroj pointed the weapon at him. My son grabbed it out of fear. He was drunk, and not sure how many times it went off,” she said.

She split up with husband three years ago because he was hot-tempered and assaulted her. Mr Akkradech lives with her and visits his father only occasionally, she said.

Sub-district head Somchai Waiyaroop said Wiroj and his son agreed on repayment of the debt a long time ago but the father, in a drunken state, must have brought it up again.

Bang Pa-in police head Pol Col Somchet Maenbutr said police have taken the young man into custody as they await forensic tests. “I doubt the son meant to do it. They were both drunk and unable to control themselves,” he said.

Fire case stumps cops


A Nakhon Si Thammarat man denies torching his disabled uncle to death with a bottle of petrol from a corner store, insisting he bought the fuel for a friend.

Thawat Kongjoh, 25, is the prime suspect in a case in which his uncle, Wanchai, 47, burned to death outside the one-storey brick house they share in Village 5, tambon Karhaw of Nopphitam district on Sept 2.

Mr Thawat said he fled the scene of the blaze when he saw flames hit the roof. He said he heard Wanchai, who suffers from polio, moaning in agony inside the house but admits he did not go to his aid.

The case presents a dilemma for police as Mr Thawat denies torching his uncle, whose naked, burned body was found the next morning by his elder sister. This is despite the fact he bought a bottle of benzene earlier that night, which police say could have been used as an accelerant for the fire, but which Mr Thawat insists he bought for a friend.

He said his mate turned up on his motorcycle to pick up the benzene about 11pm. The fire is thought to have started an hour later.

Mr Thawat was captured on CCTV buying the benzene from a store close to the house about 9pm. Shortly before midnight, the camera caught him fleeing shirtless from his place. “I saw the fire flare up on the roof and ran away in fear,” he told police.

“I heard my uncle moaning, but I didn’t call for help or tell my aunt, as we don’t get along,” he said, explaining why he did not alert anyone to the blaze. He suspected someone was setting his uncle alight.

Mr Thawat took shelter beside the shop and stayed there until after 4am, when he bought some tobacco from the owner as she opened her shop for the day. Later he took shelter at a nearby bridge. Police caught up with Mr Thawat at the bridge about 10.45am after his uncle’s body was found and they went looking for the young man.

Mr Thawat said he took shelter next to the shop as he knew there was a CCTV camera there which would help prove his innocence. The footage would show he was far from whatever drama was taking place at his house. He moved to the bridge as he waited for police to arrive.

Pol Col Boonchern Limprachuabwong, head of Nopphitam station, said Wanchai’s elder sister, Suphanee Kongjoh, found the body in bushland beside a canal, about 500m from the house.

Ms Suphanee said Wanchai had suffered from polio since birth. His back was deformed and his arms and legs emaciated, though he could still walk. He did not work and usually took a meal with her in the evenings before returning to his place to sleep.

The house, she said, was divided into separate living quarters for him and Mr Thawat. They didn’t mix much and even had their own doors to the outside.

Police say the fire started on Wanchai’s mattress and spread up the walls. They are looking for Mr Thawat’s “friend” who turned up for the benzene. Mr Thawat said his mate turned up from the rear of the property, out of the CCTV camera’s line of sight.

Village 5 headman, Anan Klaiphimol, who inspected the house, said the blaze was so intense it even scorched a mangosteen tree outside. He suspects Wanchai, despite his difficulty walking, managed to flee after the blaze started but died of his injuries in the bushes nearby.

Biw Robkhob, 35, son of the shop owner, said Mr Thawat normally buys gasohol to fill his aunt’s motorcycle tank. However, on the night of the blaze he changed the order to benzene.

Mr Thawat claimed he was once getting psychiatric help but said he is now cured. He admits taking two methamphetamine pills two days before the blaze. Police are holding him on a drugs charge as they mull laying charges in relation to the blaze, depending on autopsy results and forensic evidence.

Walking pair find a ride


A rescue foundation stepped in to help a jobless Isan couple embarking on a 400km trek home by foot with nothing but a cart and menagerie of animals to their name.

Sai Than Saphan Bhun rescue workers say the couple, Chamnan Somwong, 31, and his wife Lek Amrinrat, 36, from Sikhiu, Nakhon Ratchasima (Korat), had lost their jobs in Rayong. They were left stranded when their contractor boss went bust, owing the couple wages of almost 70,000 baht.

They decided they had no choice but to head home to Korat, but had no money for public transport so would have to make the 412km journey on foot.

The brave couple broke open the piggy bank, as media reports put it, and bought with their last savings a push cart, onto which they piled their belongings, including a dog, its litter of six puppies, and five cats.


They left Muang district on the afternoon of Sept 2, and were found walking on the side of the road heading for Pluak Daeng district the next day. Locals who heard about their plight gave them money for food and water on their travels until the foundation caught up with them.

Mr Chamnan said he and his wife were working for a construction contractor in Had Saengchan, Nernphra, of Muang district when they discovered they would not get their wages owed. 

“When the work finished our boss said he couldn’t pay the 69,000 baht he had deducted from our pay as he had gone bust. He told us to go home first and said he would pay us off at the rate of 5,000 baht a month,” he told reporters.

Chakrit Dangtang, from the Sai Than Saphan Bhun Association, said locals alerted rescuers about the wandering couple’s plight, and they set off in search of them.

His volunteers offered to take them back to Nakhon Ratchasima and put their cart, belongings and pets in the back of a van.

They also had volunteers in their home province liaise with authorities about their Covid requirements for the couple. A relieved Mr Chamnan said he could not be sure his boss would pay their wages but he would like to thank those who came to their aid.

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