Jailed Frome man tells of Thai holiday drugs horror
A 21-year-old Frome man is warning other young people about the dangers of travelling in Thailand after being thrown in a Bangkok jail on drugs charges – convinced he was set up by Thai police.
Gully Moore was travelling with his girlfriend, who does not wish to be named, for three months and was on the last night of his holiday when the incident happened in May.
The pair had arrived at a hotel in the Bangkok tourist hotspot of Khao San Road late in the evening before they were due to fly home and decided to go for a drink before bed.
In the bar a Thai man and his partner beckoned them over to join them for a drink.
The Frome couple joined them but after a while Mr Moore's girlfriend decided to go to bed and left him with them.
It was then that Mr Moore said the Thai man pulled out a tiny packet of marijuana, worth about £2, and asked him if he fancied a smoke.
Mr Moore said: "I knew immediately that something was up and said no thanks.
"The man then said I could keep it for free and when I protested that I didn't want it he got up, leaving it on the table, and said he was going to the toilet – that was the last I saw of him."
Less than a minute later Mr Moore said police walked into the bar, went straight to the table and demanded to search him.
He said: "I knew I was being set up. I spent half an hour protesting that it was nothing to do with me but they dragged me off to the police station."
At the police station Mr Moore said he was taken into a tiny room and ordered to sign a confession, which he refused.
He said: "I couldn't understand what they were saying and while I knew they spoke English they pretended not to and ignored me.
"I was treated pretty badly and beaten about a bit by the police and at one point one of them showed me his gun to try to get me to sign the confession – I was really scared.
"They wanted my passport but it was at the hotel and they had to take me back, and I had to tell my girlfriend who knew nothing about what was going on. I managed to tell her briefly what had happened but she was half asleep and the police took me straight back again.
"I was able to send a quick text to my parents to let them know what had happened.
"At this point I didn't know what was going to happen but felt sure that because the drugs weren't actually found on me I would be released pretty soon."
But Mr Moore could not have been more wrong; despite arguing his innocence he spent the next 48 hours in a Thai prison.
He said: "When I was taken to the cell I saw lots of prisoners staring at me and backed away.
"The prison officer beat me to the floor and got his gun out – it was terrifying – all for something that I didn't do."
In the meantime his concerned parents, Damon and Kate, tried to find anyone they knew that was in the country who might be able to help.
They got in touch with a Frome friend working in Bangkok who found a lawyer and translator.
Mr Moore said: "I was advised by my lawyer to plead guilty to the charge of possession of drugs and if I didn't he said I would have to spend six months in Bangkok – I soon realised I had no choice but to do as he said – staying there for six months was not an option.
"I was released the following day after paying £200. I was told to appear in court on June 28 – which meant staying in the country for six weeks without money and nowhere to stay.
"We survived with a lot of financial support from our families and were able to communicate with them daily using Skype which became very natural as time dragged on.
"We managed to get an apartment in a non-tourist area of Bangkok but we didn't go out much, we were less enthusiastic about being in Thailand and nervous about being set up again.
"The whole situation was so surreal, I hadn't done anything wrong, and my lawyer told me I would get a fine at the most, which was a relief, but we still didn't really know until the court date."
Six weeks later Mr Moore appeared in court and was fined £30. His passport was then returned so the pair could leave the country.
He said: "It was such a relief to have the whole nightmare over and done with. We booked a flight for two days later and are now home safe.
"I would recommend to everyone to go travelling as before it all happened we had a fantastic time, but don't trust strangers who present themselves as friends, especially people who come up and talk out of the blue, and be wary in tourist areas.
"Generally the people of Thailand are very kind, helpful and welcoming."
Mr Moore's family held a benefit gig at the Merlin Theatre to raise money for his flight back home and to help pay legal costs. They would like to thank everybody who showed their support.
Mr Moore added: "I also have to say a big thank you to my girlfriend who never considered leaving without me.
"My girlfriend's parents have been wonderful, so many friends and many, many people I didn't even know have offered me their encouragement and good wishes.
"Now when I go travelling I am going to be so much more wary."