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Australian on Death Row in Thailand Acquitted of Charges

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Australian on Death Row in Thailand Acquitted of Charges

An Australian man and his Thai wife sentenced to death in Thailand for allegedly smuggling 50Kg of crystal meth for the Hells Angels have been acquitted after four years in a Bangkok jail.

Luke Cook, 37, from Duncraig in Western Australia, arrived in Sydney on a Thai Airways flight on Sunday after being cleared by the Supreme Court in Bangkok last week.

Pleading his innocence since being jailed in 2017, the father of two had been convicted on the evidence provided by an Australian now wanted on a warrant for sex trafficking.

Cook, who was an offshore worker as well as running a bar and guest house in the coastal Thai town Pattaya, was accompanied to the departure gate at Bangkok airport by Australian embassy officials and will be held in quarantine in Sydney for a fortnight before being reunited with his two sons.

His father Paul Cook, a New Zealander, has campaigned tirelessly for his son’s release, maintaining he had been set up.

Wife remains in Thailand

Cook’s Thai wife Kanyarat Wechapitak and an American man Tyler Gerard, who had also been sentenced to death after being convicted of drug smuggling, have also been released. Gerard flew back to the United States last Friday while Kanyarat has remained in Thailand.

Their trial had centered around claims by Thai police that Luke Cook had been paid $US10 million ($A13.7 million) by the Hells Angel’s bike gang to smuggle crystal meth into Australia in 2015 aboard his yacht Jomandy, on which Gerard was a crew hand.

Police alleged Cook had panicked when a Thai navy vessel approached and dumped the cargo overboard. They said a package of 50.4kg of the drug was later found on a beach near the Thai navy base of Sattahip in Chonburi province.

Read the full story by Andrew Drummond in the Sydney Morning Herald

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