A 21-year-old Sydney woman sentenced to 15 days jail in Phuket for falsely claiming she was assaulted by a taxi driver is appealing the verdict and has been granted bail.
Stevie Rochelle Bamford was initially found guilty by a Phuket provincial court on June 15 of making false claims after telling Thai police a local taxi driver, with two other men restraining her, carried out the assault in the early hours of Sunday June 10.
However, CCTV footage later revealed she had returned to her hotel safely after becoming separated from her Australian boyfriend.
Phuket police interviewed Bamford for two days before she confessed to fabricating the story. She was held in local police cells before the court hearing.
Bamford was sentenced to serve the 15-day prison term at a low security detention centre on the outskirts of Phuket rather than in an adult women’s jail.
She is the daughter of former Australian league player Peter Tunks, who has appealed to the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra to assist his daughter.
Tunks told Sydney’s Sunday Telegraph the whole family was “extremely concerned” about his daughter’s welfare and wanted her back in Australia.
“It’s obviously been a worrying time but we’re hopeful to have her back home safely as soon as possible,” Tunks said.
Bamford is appealing the sentence and has been granted bail of 50,000 baht (A$1600).
Reports in Australia on Sunday said that in the meantime, she was holidaying at the resort area of Krabi in Southern Thailand.
Thai-based legal sources said Bamford was being represented by a local lawyer in Phuket but warned that the appeal may lead to the court increasing her sentence by up to two years and forcing her to serve it in an adult prison.
However, following the recent murder of Australian travel agent Michelle Smith in Phuket, Thailand may also be looking to repair its battered tourist image, leading to an acquittal.