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Thai Truck Driver who Struck and Killed British Couple Escaped with 1000 Baht Fine



Peter Root and Mary Thompson

Peter Root and Mary Thompson


BANGKOK – A Thai truck driver who knocked down and killed a British couple on a round-the-world cycling adventure escaped with a fine of just £18 fine.

An inquest heard that Peter Root and Mary Thompson, both 34, left Guernsey in July 2011 and pedaled through Europe, the Middle East and China.

But their marathon journey ended in tragedy 19 months later in Thailand – their 23rd country – when a pickup truck hit them on one of the nation’s notoriously lethal roads.

Driver Vorawong Sangkawat was quickly arrested and charged with killing them both through negligence.

However he escaped with just a two-year suspended prison sentence and a fine of 1,000 Baht – equivalent to just £18.

Mr Root, an acclaimed artist and lecturer, was born in Jersey but grew up on the Channel Island of Guernsey.

He met Bristol-born Ms Thompson when they both attended art college in Falmouth, Cornwall, 14 months earlier.

In the wake of their deaths, Peter’s father Jerry described them as a ‘golden couple’ who ‘loved life’.

The inquest in Guernsey heard they had cycled through the whole of Europe and a number of danger hotspots including Iran and Afghanistan.

Their online blog, ‘Two on Four Wheels’ described how they faced extreme weather conditions and even came under gunfire during the 19-month trip of a lifetime.

Their adventure came to a tragic halt, however, when they reached Phanom Sarakham District, just east of Bangkok, on February 12 last year.

Thai authorities said Peter and Mary were travelling on the hard shoulder when a pickup truck veered from its lane and struck them.

A post-mortem examination in Guernsey confirmed they had both suffered severe head injuries consistent with a road traffic accident.

The was delayed for months because of difficulties in obtaining details of the driver’s prosecution.

Eventually officials discovered that Sangkawat had appeared in Chacheungsao Provisional Court on 19 December last year, where he pleaded guilty to an offence of causing death by negligence.

The single offence violated several laws and carried a potential sentence of up to 10 years in jail.

But he left court with a two-year suspended sentence because of his guilty plea, remorse and previous good character.

He was also placed under probation service supervision for one year and made to attend a seminar relating to the country’s Land Traffic Law.

Judge Philip Robey recorded a verdict of accidental death, saying the medical evidence was consistent with severe head injuries caused by a traffic collision.

Thailand is well known for its perilous roads, with more than 13,000 killed and almost 1million injured each year in accidents.

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