Fugitive English national Lee Aldhouse made Thailand and English legal history last night when Thai Airways International (THAI) Flight TG221 touched down on the island province of Phuket.
After being transferred from an earlier Thai Airways flight from London, Mr Aldhouse became the first person since the 101-year-old extradition treaty between the UK and Thailand was signed to be returned to face trial in Thailand.
Mr Aldhouse, also known by his kickboxing nickname “The Pitbull”, fled Thailand in August 2010 following the stabbing death of former US Marine Dashawn Longfellow. He was arrested on unrelated charges and subsequently imprisoned while trying to enter the UK a short time later.
With an eye-witness description of the attacker, CCTV footage of Mr Aldhouse obtaining knives at a 7-eleven convenience store close to where the killing occurred, and testimony that Mr Aldhouse was involved in a fight with Mr Longfellow earlier in the evening, the Thailand government immediately applied for Mr Aldhouse’s extradition from the UK.
Death penalty waived
An early stumbling block to the extradition request by Thailand was that the country still maintains the death penalty for murder. Thai authorities quickly made undertakings to the UK that Mr Aldhouse would not face the death penalty if convicted and at one stage offered to build a western-style jail cell at Phuket Prison just to accommodate him.
After an English lower court granted Thailand’s extradition application Mr Aldhouse appealed the ruling to England’s High Court, claiming extradition to Thailand would be a violation of his human rights due to the inhumane conditions in Thai prisons. The High Court subsequently dismissed Mr Aldhouse’s appeal paving the way for his return to Phuket.
|Lee Aldhouse arrives at Chalong Police Station for questioning Greg Vernan|
It will be alleged that Mr Aldhouse, from Birmingham, and Mr Longfellow, a two-time Purple Heart winning US marine who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, were involved in an altercation at a bar in Phuket’s resort area of Rawai Beach, which ended up with the Englishman being punched to the floor.
Mr Aldhouse and Mr Longfellow were trained Muay Thai style kickboxers, a local sport that uses the fists, elbows, knees, shins and feet, though it is claimed by people who knew him that Mr Aldhouse held a particularly high opinion of his own ability.
According to Chalong Police, Mr Aldhouse, who was captured on CCTV demanding knives at a local 7/11 convenience store, followed Mr Longfellow and his Thai girlfriend out of the bar and when they returned home to the Yanui Paradise Resort, attacked them from behind, fatally stabbing Mr Longfellow.
From the beginning the US has let it be known that it wants to see Aldhouse extradited and put on trial in Thailand for the murder and in a reflection of the significance of the case Thailand’s Office of the Attorney General despatched its executive director of international affairs, Intranee Sumawong, to supervise the extradition process and accompany Mr Aldhouse back to Phuket.
Mr Longfellow’s sister, Sabré Anderson, last week posted on the Dashawn Longfellow Memorial Facebook page: “We have waited so long for justice, and now we are finally pushing towards it. The British people are wasting no time now in getting that [man] back to Thailand where he can rot in a prison for taking your amazing life away”.
Following his return to Phuket last night Mr Aldhouse was transferred to Chalong Police station where he will undergo questioning before appearing before the Phuket Provincial Court on Monday.
If convicted and sentenced to less than 15 years in jail Mr Aldhouse will serve his time at Phuket Prison. A sentence in excess of this will see him transferred to a higher security prison elsewhere in Thailand.
Feature video Greg Vernan
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
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