The Thai man who drove the motorbike, used in the attack that led to the stabbing death of Australian travel agent Michelle Smith in Phuket, has changed his plea after initially denying all charges against him.
At the beginning of yesterday's court proceedings, Surasak 'Boy' Suwannachote, 26, pleaded guilty to stabbing 60-year-old mother-of-three Mrs Smith twice in the chest when she refused to hand over her bag during the attack on June 20.
His accomplice, Surin Tadthong, 37, admitted throwing away the knife used in the attack but initially denied the other charges against him of conspiracy to rob and assisting in a murder.
Mrs Smith and another travel agent from Perth, Tammy Lee Lynn, 42, were walking home after dinner to the Katathani Phuket Beach Resort at Kata Noi, one of Phuket's most quiet beaches.
Mrs Smith would not let go of the bag so Surasak stabbed her above the heart. The two women walked on for a few steps before Mrs Smith collapsed, dying.
The men, both wearing brown prison uniforms and ankle chains, faced trial before two judges at Phuket Provincial Court.
One judge told Surin that it was his right to deny the charges, but if he were found guilty, his punishment might be harsher than that handed down to Surasak.
Visibly shaken, Surin changed his plea to guilty when confronted with CCTV footage that showed him driving the motorbike from which Surasak dismounted to attempt the robbery that resulted in the death of the Perth travel agent.
Tuesday, August 7, 2012