PHUKET – Lee Aldhouse, accused of murdering a former US Marine in Phuket in August 2010, pleaded not guilty today before Judge Piyawut Kleuajan in the Phuket Provincial Court.
Aldhouse, who was brought back to Thailand in December in the first case of extradition from the UK, faces just one charge, that of murdering Dashawn Longfellow.
Wearing fetters on his legs and clad in brown prison shorts and shirt, Aldhouse – who fought in the Thai boxing ring under the name “Pitbull” – appeared nervous at first as a court interpreter translated the proceedings.
Judge Piyawut first asked Aldhouse and a representative of his lawyer (the lawyer was not in court) to introduce themselves.
The representative – not a lawyer herself – said that the lawyer was caught up in another case, but had asked her to tell the court that Aldhouse was suffering from an illness and that a doctor’s certificate to confirm this would be presented to the court at a later date.
She said that the lawyer had requested that the court take this into consideration when deciding on any sentence for Aldhouse.
The judge then read out the single charge of murder, and asked Aldhouse, “Do you accept this or not?” Aldhouse replied quietly, “Yes”.
However, as the judge read out the prosecution’s account of the night of the murder, Aldhouse, shaking his head, denied that this was how the killing had taken place. “That’s not the way it happened,” he told the judge.
He said that he had been advised to plead guilty, and was afraid to go up against the court. However, the judge told him that if he had not intended to kill Mr Longfellow, he should plead not guilty, and fight the charge.
A temporary defence lawyer appointed by the judge asked Aldhouse whether he had any evidence he could produce in his defence. Aldhouse said that CCTV footage taken in the 7-Eleven where he had taken two knives, along with the testimony of his girlfriend, could be used in his defence.
Aldhouse also gave the court his own version of the events leading up to the killing.
He said that on the night of the killing he had been attacked by a group who had beaten him up, damaging his teeth, chin and face. He added that because he was drunk at the time he did not recognise them.
Fearing for his life, he ran into a nearby 7-Eleven and asked for a knife. The staff threw two knives onto the floor, which he picked up. He only wanted to protect himself, he said.
He said that he was outside Mr Longfellow’s accommodation because he was looking for his dog, which had gone missing. He heard somebody talking and then someone grabbed him from behind.
He was shocked, and in reaction, jabbed behind himself with “the knife”, twice.
He said he really did not know at the time who had grabbed him. The attacker let go of him and he turned to see who it was. The stabbed man saw his own blood flowing and run into the building.
The judge asked again for him to plead to the charge of murder. He replied that he was no guilty.
The trial was adjourned until a date to be fixed, at which the first of the prosecution witnesses will be examined.
Aldhouse made no request for bail and was remanded in custody at Phuket Provincial Prison.
The hearing of the case has been delayed because after the killing Aldhouse fled to Britain, where he was arrested on an unrelated charge. After completing the sentence for that crime, he was rearrested because Thailand had applied for his extradition.
After months of hearings he was finally sent back to Thailand, arriving under escort on December 1 last year. – The Phuket News