British tourist, 46, was beaten to death in Thai prison

May 9, 2014


A British tourist accused of stealing a moped in Thailand was beaten to death in jail by a fellow inmate while in prison, an inquest has heard.

Sean Flanagan died after a man allegedly jumped onto his body with both knees before pressing down on him so hard he suffered broken ribs and ‘blunt-object trauma’.

Yet it took Thai authorities eight months to begin an investigation into the death, following pressure from the victim’s family.

Initially, the authorities had claimed that Flanagan had fallen off a wall but another prisoner at Pattaya Remand Prison has now been charged with his manslaughter.

Mr Flanagan, 46, divided his time between his home at Dalton, Cumbria, and Thailand, where his girlfriend lived.

Ian Smith, the coroner for South and East Cumbria, concluded Flanagan’s death was due to ‘injuries following an assault or assaults’.

A post mortem was carried out on April 24 after his body was repatriated, the inquest at Barrow Town Hall heard yesterday.

The cause of death was recorded as blunt chest trauma, but bruising to the face, abdomen and limbs was also noted.

DCI Bob Qazi, who has been liaising with the Flanagan family, said: ‘The doctor concluded she is in no doubt he was the victim of a serious assault with rib fractures and bruising to his body.’

Flanagan was arrested last March and accused of stealing the moped and taken to Pattaya Remand Prison two days later where he was said to have been behaving unusually.

DCI Qazi said: ‘It was said by several people he was losing his self-control, refusing to sleep and exhibiting violent behaviour. The gist of it was he was disturbing other prisoners and irritating them.’

On March 29, he was visited by embassy officials who discovered that he was in a wheelchair, heavily bruised and speaking incoherently.

Prison officials said that the injuries had been caused by Flanagan falling off a wall and into a drinking trough. It was later revealed that he had been attacked. A second, and fatal, assault occurred sometime after the embassy official’s visit.

It was not until November 2013 that the Thais began an investigation.

DCI Qazi said: ‘Mr Flanagan was assaulted by a man who admitted to jumping on his body with both knees, pressing his knees into Mr Flanagan’s chest for a period of time.’

The man, who has not been named, has since been charged with the Thai equivalent of manslaughter.

Summing up, Coroner Smith praised Flanagan’s family, DCI Qazi and the office of Barrow and Furness MP John Woodcock for helping push for an investigation.

In a statement, Flanagan’s family urged the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to do more to support families in similar situations.

‘It is vital that the Foreign Office improves its communications system and realises that it is dealing with people and not case numbers.

‘Sean, we will miss you terribly.’

Flanagan was arrested after he went into a pawn shop and took a moped, according to a report in The Pattaya Daily News at the time.

He was charged after driving the moped to a nearby hotel, but denied the theft, the newspaper reported.

Flanagan’s friend Steven Strefford, 53, from Walney, Barrow, said: ‘One of my mates rang me straightaway when he got the news. He got done for nicking a moped and then banged up.

‘It’s a hell of a shame. I have known Sean a lot of years and he was one of those guys who, if you wanted a hand with anything, he would be there for you. We had some good laughs, we used to go out fishing together and he was an absolutely blinding lad. I couldn’t believe it when I heard. He was just a cracking guy.’

Although he returned to Barrow frequently to see friends and pick up work, Flanagan had travelled all over Asia, Africa and Europe, he said.

Mr Strefford added: ‘I tried to keep in touch with him, but he was always jaunting all over the place. He would always be back here for two or three months and get a bit of work somewhere and then be off out there somewhere.

‘He would always come back to see his mates, he will be sadly missed.
‘He did anything and everything; he could always turn his hand to anything. If there was job to do, he would do it.’

2 Responses to British tourist, 46, was beaten to death in Thai prison

  1. Alfred Maxesro
    May 11, 2014 at 8:40 am

    This is horrible.

  2. Tony
    June 18, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Behave and it won’t happen to you.
    I lived almost a decennial in Thailand, I never saw the inside of monkey house.
    There must be a sign on BKK airport saying:
    ‘Please leave your brains here’
    Lesson 1: behave!

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