BANGKOK – Thailand is a favorite holiday destinations for millions of Australians but Foreign Affairs warns some areas are dangerous no-go zones. In the past five years over 1300 Aussies have died in Thailand from mysterious causes.
Rory McDonald’s son Andrew Oake is one of those statistics, and McDonald knows the death was no accident.
“The injuries were several large deep gashes to his head, he probably had 150 stitches to his head. He had multiple cuts to his arm, basically couldn’t move his arm, lost control of all his muscles and tendons in his fingers and his arm was chopped up,” McDonald said.
In fact he knows his son was murdered and by whom – and so do the authorities.
“He was charged, found guilty of murder and conspiring to murder and was given a three year good behavior bond. Even the police prosecutor in Thailand at the time, who was prosecuting the case, said this sends a wrong message to our youth. So nothing will stop them from doing it again,” McDonald said.
The tragedy and his search for justice for his son has occupied McDonald’s life for the past two years.
Like so many Australians, 28-year-old Oake holidayed in Thailand and fell in love with the country and its people. “He found it really great in Thailand. He met his partner Sun and she fell pregnant,” McDonald said.
The couple became engaged and set up home in a village called Prasat. On a night out they were ambushed by three men.
“My son told Sun to run away to protect her and three men attacked him with machetes. They hit him about the head and he put his arm up to protect himself. All his arm was sliced up, he had several large cuts to his head, he lost consciousness,” McDonald said.
On hearing the news McDonald flew in from Australia to be by his son’s side in a Bangkok hospital.
“They just said it was ‘superficial, superficial’ and that’s the injuries to his head. They were more concerned about his arm, they agreed that the arm injuries were very severe,” McDonald said.
Things became more critical when infection set in and his insurer Covermore insisted he return to Australia.
“He was told if he did not come back on the next commercial flight they would cancel his insurance policy,” McDonald said.
That first required a twenty hour round trip by bus to his village to collect his passport, against his doctor’s orders. Oake never made it home.
“The doctor who did that autopsy report says, in writing, that the cause of death was the long and arduous journey to go back and pick his belongings up,” McDonald said.
“Over there it’s compulsory that a family member attend the autopsy. I had to attend the autopsy of my son with him being cut apart.”
McDonald was forced to bury his son in a foreign country.
“We’ve got a beautiful little granddaughter – my son never saw her and that’s the really sad part of all of this. She is going to grow up without a dad,” he said.
Almost a year after Oake’s death the three culprits were dobbed in by other villagers. Only one has faced court and he escaped with a good behaviour bond despite being charged with murder.
“We found out later on that these three Thai guys that attacked my son were high on drugs and had been drinking and talked about or conspired to kill a westerner that night. They said they were going to go out with the specific idea of killing a westerner,” McDonald said.
“It’s cost me tens of thousands of dollars to do what they should have done, and I believe our Government should have done.”
McDonald travelled to Macau and found one of the culprits working as a security guard at a casino.
“If I didn’t (do the investigating) nothing would be happening,” McDonald said.
And while he won’t give up until justice is served, McDonald doesn’t want his son’s death to be in vain.
“I don’t want to see this happen to anybody else; I don’t want to see anybody else go through this. It needs to be exposed,” McDonald concluded.
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