Teenager held in Thailand on drug charge

The father of a British teenager arrested on suspicion of trying to smuggle 3,400 ecstasy tablets into Thailand said last night he had no idea he had even left the country.

Michael Connell, 19, from Bury, Greater Manchester, was seized after an X-ray machine at Bangkok’s international airport detected the pills.

He faces the mandatory death penalty if convicted but death sentences passed on foreigners are usually commuted on appeal to life imprisonment.

Connell, an unemployed labourer, was held late on Monday evening, having travelled to Bangkok via Dubai.

His father, Derek Connell, 48, a taxi driver, learned of his arrest when he tuned in to a local radio station at 9am yesterday. Last night, he and his former wife, Maureen, were waiting to hear from the Foreign Office.

Mr Connell said: “This has hit me like a bombshell. We didn’t even know he’d gone. He’s no money and I’ve not lent him any, so how the hell he’s managed to get over there is beyond me.

“I’m just in shock. I don’t know what to do.”

His last contact with his son was late last week when the teenager rang with a request to borrow £5 “for a video and something from the chippy”. He loaned him the money and gave him a lift to the video hire shop.

The next time he saw him was on a television screen, flanked by Thai police officers, handcuffed and seated at a table laden with drugs.

Michael Connell left his local secondary school with no qualifications. Since then, says his father, he has “probably not worked more than a month in his life”.

Mr Connell described his son as a quiet, teetotal teenager with few friends. To his knowledge he did not have a girlfriend.

He had travelled to Bangkok a year ago to visit a friend. “He went out to see this lad I don’t know,” his father said. “He brought me back a [Manchester] United shirt.”

Mr Connell went on: “He’ll be petrified.”

Beaches in southern Thailand are approaching the high season for raves and full moon parties at which many young European visitors take drugs.

Connell, who has a brother, Adam, 17, is the youngest Briton to face Thailand’s tough anti-drugs laws since the arrests of the Birmingham teenagers Karyn Smith and Patricia Cahill, aged 17 and 18, in 1990.

If convicted he might face eight years in a Thai jail before becoming eligible for transfer back to Britain under a “Prisoner Transfer Treaty”.

Because of their age Smith and Cahill were each given a royal pardon after serving three years in jail. Since Connell is a little older, his chances of early release could be weaker.

Source: Daily Telegraph


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