CORNWALL,UK – A British Coroner Dr Emma Carlyon an open verdict has been recorded into the death of Liam Whitaker found hanged in a Thai police station had been arrested for possession of a class one drug just a couple of hours earlier.
Liam Whitaker, 24, was found dead only two days after arriving in Bangkok, in October last year.
He had been taken to a Thai prison after being arrested for possession of a class one drug, crystal meth, known in Thailand as “Yaba Ice”, which he had just bought.
His friend James Meredew told an inquest today that Thai police officers had tried to get the pair to pay 400,000 baht, the equivalent of £8,000, either as a bribe or bail money.
However, they were only able to pay £100 worth that night and James left Liam “in good spirits”, agreeing to return in the morning for a proper interview and possibly with more money.
Yet when he returned the next day, with another friend, Adam Pascoe, they learned Liam had been found hanged in a detention area bathroom.
James did not believe Liam knew what drug he had bought, after being taken to an alleyway by a tuk-tuk driver.
Translated statements from the Thai police made no reference to any suggestion of a handover of money and did not contain details of any conversations that took place.
However, they claimed that after James had left the police station Liam had asked to use the toilet.
Officers continued to fill in reports, but after 20 minutes they looked into the bathroom to find Liam hanged.
His time of death was recorded as 4.30am on October 15.
The cause of death was determined as asphyxia due to suspension of the neck (hanging), with coroner Dr Emma Carlyon recording an open verdict.
She said she was not satisfied there was a sufficient level of proof that Liam had killed himself.
She found a discrepancy in two toxicology reports, one made in Bangkok and the second in the UK, with the British one finding levels of sedative diazepam (the Valium), the hallucinogenic ketamine and stimulant methamphetamine that were not present in the Thai report. It was unknown where these last two drugs had come from or the affect they would have had on Liam.
Dr Carlyon added that there appeared to be no motive for the hanging, with Liam expecting his friends to return the next day and secure his release.
Det Con Dan Skelton, of Devon and Cornwall Police, told the inquest Mr Whitaker had taken drugs but there was still a “gap in evidence”.
He said there was no mention in Thai police reports about the 400,000 baht and no information about any talks officers and Mr Whitaker had after Mr Meredew left.
After the ruling, Mr Whitaker’s mother, Andrea, said: “People need to be aware of what’s happened. It’s a dangerous place.”
Liam is listed on his Facebook page as aged 24 and a former student of the University of Glamorgan, where he studied for a BSc in physical geography.