Scottish expat Lydia Riach critical in Bangkok after bag-snatch (gallery)

Scottish expat Lydia Riach critical in Bangkok after bag-snatch (gallery)
Online English lessons Phnom Penh Tutors 1

Lydia Riach, a middle-aged Scottish woman, is fighting for her life in a Bangkok hospital, the victim of a bag-snatch theft that went horribly wrong.

Lydia, from Inverness, Scotland, was walking with her husband, Douglas Riach down a well trafficked laneway in central Bangkok on Saturday night between Soi Sukhumvit 20 and Soi Sukhumvit 22 when two men on a motorbike drove passed and stole her handbag.

According to Douglas, Lydia had the bag around her neck as well as over her shoulder and the force of the theft sent her spinning into the roadway fracturing her skull in multiple places.

Doctors at Bangkok Police Hospital performed emergency brain surgery on Lydia on Saturday night following the attack, but have told Douglas that his wife is unlikely to awaken from the coma she is currently in.

The top of Lydia Riach’s head indicates the extent of her injuries
The top of Lydia Riach’s head indicates the extent of her injuries John Le Fevre

The doctors have said her skull was fractured externally in two places as well as internally. She was bleeding from the ears and by the time we got to the hospital there was fragments of bone coming out of her ears.

“She’s currently in a coma and we’ve been trying to talk to her but now she only has one eye open and is not responding to us or bright lights. The doctors have said they don’t think she will last a week though”, a distressed Douglas said.

Family relatives have started arriving in Bangkok, with Douglas’ brother flying in on Monday night and the couples two children expected on Tuesday or Wednesday.

Douglas has been resident in Bangkok for about two years where he works as a consultant for Infinity Financial Solutions, and Lydia joined him less than a year ago and has been actively involved in assisting underprivileged children since.

Friends at The Twenty Two Scottish Bar in Soi Sukhumvit 22 where the two were heading for a game of dominoes when the attack took place were shocked at news of the assault.

This is not a bad part of Bangkok, but there is no denying that these sorts of assaults are on the increase as the economic crisis continues to worsen, one patron said.


Bag snatch subsequent scenario in slide gallery



 Photos John Le Fevre



The following two tabs change content below.

John Le Fevre is an Australian national with more than 40 years experience as a journalist, photographer, videographer and editor.

He has spent extensive periods of time working in Africa and throughout Southeast Asia, with stints in the Middle East, the USA, and England.

He has covered major world events including Operation Desert Shield/ Storm, the 1991 pillage in Zaire, the 1994 Rwanda genocide, the 1999 East Timor independence unrest, the 2004 Asian tsunami, and the 2009, 2010, and 2014 Bangkok political protests.

In 1995 he was a Walkley Award finalist, the highest awards in Australian journalism, for his coverage of the 1995 Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) Ebola outbreak.

Most recently he was the Thailand editor/ managing editor of AEC News Today . Prior to that he was the deputy editor and Thailand and Greater Mekong Sub-region editor for The Establishment Post, predecessor of Asean Today.

In the mid-80s and early 90s he owned JLF Promotions, the largest above and below the line marketing and PR firm servicing the high-technology industry in Australia. It was sold in 1995.

Opinions and views expressed on this site are those of the author’s only. Read more at About me

If you enjoyed reading, please share using these options below.

17 Responses to "Scottish expat Lydia Riach critical in Bangkok after bag-snatch (gallery)"

  1. bill reid   May 20, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    I spent New Year 09 at the 22 scottish bar with dougie and Lydia along with the host Ray. I can confirm that there is not a couple less deserving of this tham them. As a scot myself resident in Thailand I am deeply saddened to hear of this happening to such a decent couple. The report is not sensationalising anything as this is a constant danger in tourist locations.
    I hope these criminals are caught soon and punished for their actions. If they are then perhaps Thailand can gain some respect for their justice system.

  2. Michelle   September 19, 2009 at 3:24 pm

    Seems like you’re trying to profit from this. Pretty sad I think. And, as this very rarely happens in Bangkok, (I’m an expat who’s lived here for more than 10 years and have only ever heard of one instance of this) it’s sad you’re using sensationalistic journalism to scare people and damage Thailand’s image.

    • John Le Fevre   September 19, 2009 at 4:19 pm

      If you call profiting from it by doing my job then yes. I imagine you must be one of those people who work for free?

      As far as this type of event being rare, I think you are vastly out of touch with the number of these incidents that occur in Bangkok on a weekly basis involving Thais and foreigners.

      Sensationalism? What is sensational about ONE story? Perhaps you should be pointing your finger at Andrew Drummond when you accuse people of profiteering. He’s the one who dogged the family, hung arouynd the hospital and filed daily reports. I merely photographed the NEWS event at the time it happened and held off writing anything about it until it became obvious Mrs Riach was going to die – a delay of filing anything for 48-hours.

      To throw a line into your comment about damaging Thailand’s reputation is ridiculous. Thailand doesn’t need any help to damage it’s reputation. The Thais do a perfectl;y good enough job at that themselves. And if you had bothered to read the comments and responses you would have seen that I and Douglas Riach have repeatedly said that this was a random act that could have occurred in any city in the world.

      But hey, thanks for taking the time to jump in boots and all without giving what you’re writing any consideration. Next time news happens journalists shouldn’t write anything about it becasue they will merely be profiteering and scaring people. Good one Michelle. And in case you haven’t noticed, there is no adsense on this blog so no revenue derived from it.

  3. thaiLaw   September 6, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    To: All Scottishs.

    We are very sorry for what happened to Lydia. May Lydia rest in eternal pace. In Thailand,corruption is a norm and definitely neither a crime nor a sin. Without money is equivalent to without justice. Let me quote all of you an example, a few years ago, the son of a very powerful interior minister (Khun Charlem) walk away freely after killing a senior police officer in a bar. There are tons of witnesses saw him did it, but the Thai Law (Law of Money) set him free.

    • John Le Fevre   September 6, 2009 at 1:49 pm

      Thanks for reading,

      This is a great tragedy and I am sure many Thais and expats alike are shocked that events could turn so badly, but there is nothing to indicate that this was any more than a random act of street crime that could have occurred in any city in the world. Douglas Riach has been quoted a number of times as extending his gratitude to the doctors at the Bangkok Police Hospital and the Royal Thailand Police. I believe the Thai police will do everything in their ability to apprehend the people responsible for this crime but as the only description that Douglas could provide on the night was that one of the offenders was wearing a white t-shirt there is not much for them to go on.

      As the death was not intentional the offender could serve as little as two years imprisonment, as was the penalty in the fatal shooting of Gary Poretsky in Chiang Mai last year by Australian William Thomas Douglas (see: Cash payment lightens sentence for Australian murderer). While this will be classified as a homicide, it will not be classified as murder.

      John Le Fevre

  4. val   September 5, 2009 at 1:12 pm

    According to Andrew Drummond you have approached Lydia’s family claiming to represent The family says you have asked them for money to find the muggers. You are a disgrace to journalism.

    • John Le Fevre   September 5, 2009 at 5:39 pm

      Hello Val,

      I’m unaware of what Andrew Drummond may or may not be claiming as I am currently in Australia and have been since Tuesday.

      On Monday my translator received some information regarding a person who may have been involved in the attack on Lydia but the person who provided that information was asking for money for more details and told my translator that any detailed information would require a payment to a local Thai “mafia” person.

      I phoned Doug (in the presence of two witnesses) who was in a bar in Sukhumvit Soi 4 (from memory) with his brother who had arrived that night and asked if he was prepared to pay the local “mafia” person and witness for that information to which he agreed. There was never any mention or intention of payment being made to me or my translator and no mention of

      Doug replied, “Sure, go ahead if that’s what it takes. I just want to get the people responsible for this. Just let me know what’s required”.

      The translator was told to tell the informant that they would only receive any payment if the information they provided led to the arrest of the perpetrator(s). As we were unable to find the informant or the so-called “mafia” person prior to my departing Bangkok any further inquiries have been put on hold until my return.

      If Drummond has published these accusations without bothering to check them then my Thai lawyers will have a pleasurable time with him – which will not be the first time that Drummond has been sued for libel in Thailand.

      If Drummond has seen the text message that was sent to Douglas Riach and still printed what you claim then he is lying. My Thai telephone number works in Australia, as does my email and I still have the copy of the text message sent to Douglas Riach on Sept 3. The contents of which I have already repeated in a previous reply.

      Thanks for your comments though.

      John Le Fevre

  5. Ken Thomson   September 5, 2009 at 12:50 pm


    The family are most upset by your inaccurate reporting. Although Lydia is in a coma and critically ill, her son Roger confirmed that as of Friday 10.25am, she HAD NOT passed away.

    This is absolutely tragic and so undeserving. Just a lovely lady enjoying a new life in Thailand, strolling to the pub with her husband. It’s just heartbreaking.

    I shall also make them aware of your comments regarding the help given by you and your friend.


    • John Le Fevre   September 5, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      Hello Ken,

      Thanks for the information. I have removed the update from the post. I am currently in Australia and was advised by telephone from a friend of the family that Lydia had died. I attempted to contact Douglas by telephone at 10.44 pm Sept 3, 2009 (Bangkok time) but could not contact him. I sent him a condolence message by SMS which he has yet not replied to.

      The message read: This is John Le Fevre. I am in Australia. I have been told Lydia died. My condolences to your family. My translator is still trying to get information.

      Thanks again.

      John Le Fevre

  6. Belle   September 4, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    Hi John, this was horrible and I really want to say sorry to her husband. I hope that the embassy should follow this case with the Thai police to find the murderer.

    • John Le Fevre   September 5, 2009 at 5:44 am

      Hi and thanks for reading Belle,

      As I have already pointed out. This was a random act of street violence and could have occurred anywhere in the world. There is nothing to suggest that the Riach’s were targeted because they were foreigners and many Thai people are subject to the same crime. Mrs Riach was very unlucky that the way she was carrying her bag meant that it required such force o steal it that it sent her falling onto the roadway head first. Street crime such as this is increasing throughout the world as a result of the tough economic times and I’m sure many Thais would be embarrassed that a foreigner was involved in a situation such as this, let alone one that resulted in a death.

  7. Liz   September 3, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    You should take these photos down, that’s really horrible.

    • John Le Fevre   September 3, 2009 at 9:32 pm

      Thanks for reading,

      Life is horrible at times.

      What purpose would be served by sanitizing (censoring) the events that led to the death of Mrs Riach – apart from letting people (including the police) forget what happened more quickly and that this was a person and not just a statistic on a report?



  8. antactica   September 3, 2009 at 9:13 pm


    • John Le Fevre   September 3, 2009 at 9:22 pm

      Hello and thanks for reading “Antactica”,

      It’s extremely sad and my sympathies are extended to Douglas and the children. It should be remembered that there is nothing to suggest that this was anymore than an opportunistic crime rather than one that targeted a foreigner in particular and could have occurred in any city in the world.


      John Le Fevre

  9. Tracy   September 2, 2009 at 11:36 pm

    How on earth did you get there so quick to take photos of this !

    • John Le Fevre   September 3, 2009 at 9:19 pm

      Thanks for reading Tracy,

      I happened to be very close to where this occurred.

      A friend and I spent considerable time attempting to help Lydia and Douglas and supplied towels and telephoned emergency services before the photographs were taken. As this was a random street crime which could happen anywhere it was not particularly newsworthy at the time and the photographs were primarily taken to assist the police in identifying the location.

      The story and photographs were only published after it became known how critical Lydia’s condition was.

      Best regards,



Make a comment

Your email address will not be published.