PILLING – Lee Chestnutt had been stuck in Thailand for three years because of a ridiculous legal dispute has said it is “a big relief” to be back in the UK.
Chestnutt, of Pilling, Lancashire, was accused of criminal damage and stealing furniture by the landlord of a property he rented in Bangkok.
He was told the case had been resolved before Christmas, but the landlord appealed against the decision.
Mr Chesnutt arrived at Manchester Airport at around 07:00 GMT, after finally getting an exit visa.
Charges against him were dropped in 2011, but he could not leave the country after two appeals were lodged by his landlord.
Dispute ‘a Nightmare’
The first appeal was thrown out in December, with the second dismissed in February.
Mr Chestnutt, a chemical engineer who has lived in Asia for 20 years, was not able to gain a work permit while he waited for the appeals to be heard.
On arrival in Manchester, he said he was “so happy to be back here”.
He said he had lived for three years “waiting for something to go wrong” and that feeling only left him as he disembarked the plane in the UK.
“I was waiting for something to happen, something to go wrong – that’s what it has been like for three and a half years,” he said.
“I was waiting for someone to turn round and say ‘You can’t go on’.”
He said the legal dispute had “been a nightmare because I didn’t know what was going to happen next”.
“I was told specifically that if I was found guilty, I’d go to jail, and the prospect of that in Thailand is a horrible thought.
“The worst point was when we found out we couldn’t leave after the appeal – that was the lowest point.”
He added he “just had to have faith in the court system and faith that justice will prevail”.
Mr Chesnutt said he was investigating if he could take legal action against the landlord, who he said had “manufactured evidence and lied under oath”.