Initial reports suggested that Samuel Caleb Bircher was an Irish man. He is, in fact, a UK man from Taunton in Somerset where his family is well known. His father Daniel Bircher ran a well know plasterworks and shop in the town which closed in 2018. Both Samuel’s father and mother died this year leaving him stranded in Thailand on an overstayed tourist visa nearly 12 years out of date.

A young UK father is fighting to avoid being remanded in a Bangkok remand prison while awaiting deportation such as the notorious Klong Prem or Bang Kwang Central Prison as he and some good friends scramble online to raise thousands of dollars to pay for outstanding court fines and list priced airline ticket out of Thailand to the UK. Normally prisoners awaiting deportation are kept at an immigration facility but if they cannot find the funds, they are lodged into the prison system. Samuel Caleb Birch has launched a crowdfunding site to pay for the expenses but says he is ‘nowhere near’ what is required. The UK man, named as an Irish national with photos distributed bearing a pig’s head in various media outlets, was arrested this week in Nakhon Ratchasima province after Thai police examined his passport. They found that he had overstayed his tourist visa by nearly 12 years. The UK man has a Thai wife and two young sons who visited him this week, perhaps for the last time, in prison.

UK man Samuel Birch is scrambling with the assistance of some good friends online and through social media to raise the funds needed to trigger his release from prison in Thailand. Soon the UK man will lose access to his smartphone and be presented instead with heavy leg irons as he is currently facing transfer to a prison in Bangkok if the fees and expenses are not paid. While his overstay of nearly 12 years on a Thai tourist visa has angered many expats and foreigners in Thailand, his plight and that of his Thai wife and two children cannot but fail to touch some hearts. The UK man lost his mother and his father, a well known and liked businessman in Taunton, Somerset this year and was consequently left stranded in Thailand.

Another UK man who appears to have made a mockery of Thailand’s legal process and has been arrested in Nakhon Ratchasima province for overstaying his visa by nearly 12 years has emerged seeking crowdfunded support to regain his freedom. To be exact, the man overstayed his visa by 4,192 days. However, while many expats in Thailand will be critical of the young man, it is difficult not to be touched by the heartbreaking situation he and his young family now find themselves in. It is a fate that could plausibly happen to many other foreigners in Thailand and indeed does on a regular basis. While he waits in an immigration detention cell in Thailand’s northeast pending his transfer to Bang Kwang Central Prison in Bangkok, the UK man, with two children and a Thai wife is desperately trying to find a way home to the safety of the UK.

Media reports suggested he was Irish, he is Engish from Taunton in Somerset

The media covering the story have published reports saying that Samual Caleb Birch is Irish. This may be due to a reference by border police suggesting he was travelling on an Irish passport in the official bulletin issued by the Thai immigration police in northeastern Thailand this week. He is, in fact, very much an English man from a well known and liked family in Taunton Somerset. It says much about the state of many UK families at present when the money to pay for man’s release from a hellish prison in Thailand cannot be attained without such efforts. 

Entered Thailand in Songkhla in January 2008 on a tourist visa, never left the kingdom

The official police report confirmed that Samuel Birch was arrested in the Ban Mai area of Nakhon Ratchasima by immigration police this week after they had asked to examine his passport. The man had been living there with his family. A search on the immigration database revealed that the passport used by Mr Birch was recorded entering Thailand from Malaysia at Songkhla on the 17th of January 2008. He entered Thailand on a tourist visa and was found to have overstayed it by 4,192 days or nearly 12 years. The extent of the overstay means that even if Mr Birch can somehow manage to pay the overstay fines and the full list price of an air flight home triggering his release, he is still facing a 10-year ban from Thailand and separation from his wife and two young sons.

Sight of a young father and two little boys in a Thai prison cell should melt hearts

Many on social media have been critical of the young English man for resorting to crowdfunding but his situation is really quite desperate. The sight of the young father and his adorable two UK Thai children in a prison cell evokes the urgent and painful plight that the young family are now facing.

Son of a well-loved Taunton businessman Daniel Birch who died in April of this year

Samuel Birch’s father, Daniel, was a well-known businessman in Taunton Somerset until his plasterworks business closed in 2018. He died in April this year and many figures in the historic UK town paid tribute to the man’s sense of humour, business flair and goodwill towards others. In the last twenty fours, Samuel Birch revealed when speaking to the Thai Visa forum that not only did his father die this year but that his mother died too.

Identity confusion has raised suspicion about the UK man which has not helped his case

The confusion as to the identity of the UK man has not helped his case. Some individuals in Thai media outlets engaged in the news processing of the story placed a pig’s head over the young man’s face. This together with the confusion as to whether he is Irish or British also adds to the mystery. It also raises confusion and more significantly, suspicion.

Possible for UK citizens to hold an Irish passport

It is possible for many UK citizens to obtain an Irish passport if they have a grandparent who is of Irish descent. This is quite common as many Irish people have traditionally emigrated to Britain and married British partners. There is a close relationship between the countries. However, the inconsistencies to do with identification are further aggravated by the fact that the UK man is also using a false name on his Facebook profile where he appears as Sammy Charles Nicholas Branson.

Budding entrepreneur and record producer

The UK man seems, like his father, to have an entrepreneurial bent and aspires to be a music record producer. His Facebook page lists a record enterprise named as Vacility Recording UK. It was formed in 2005 but aside from an edgy and flamboyant picture of Sammy with turntables and dogs, nothing much seems to be happening. 

Samuel has some good friends in the UK and Thailand who are desperately trying to help

The UK man, for all his mystery and false flags, does seem to have some very good friends. One is a UK woman named Annie Radford whose quick thinking led to a crowdfunding site to help him. Another is Andy Taunton who also seems to be living in Thailand near where Samuel has been staying. He has been visiting his friend regularly at the immigration police holding cells and lately at a police station, bringing him provisions including coke, food, water and cigarettes. He is desperately trying to assist the UK man who is facing imminent transfer to the one of the notorious prisons or holding centres in Bangkok such Klong Prem or possibly even Bang Kwang Central prison where he will be held on remand pending the payment of his fines and proof that a full fare airline ticket is paid for and a flight available. Only then will he be deported back to the UK.

Speaking with and imploring his friends to help him from a Thai prison cell in Bangkok

For some days, the UK man has had access to his smartphone and has been able to communicate with the media and his friends in the UK imploring them to help fund his return. His good friend, Andy Taupin, has even guaranteed that any money donated will be repaid by the end of July in a frantic effort to raise the money and spare Samuel Birch the hardship that awaits at a prison such Klong Prem or even the ‘big tiger’ in Bangkok, Bang Kwang, a prison known as a tiger due to its reputation for eating even the hardest of men alive. If lodged in a Bangkok prison, Samuel will find himself in heavy leg irons which all prisoners are obliged to wear for at least the first three months. This year, a former New Zealand synthetic drugs millionaire, Kemp Ashby, died in a Bangkok prison after being arrested in late December 2018 on similar immigration or visa offences at a plush Pattaya condo complex in Pattaya.

Scary place for young UK man right now

Pending his phone being cut off, the UK man has left instructions that Mr Taupin will act for him. The UK man is also constrained in what he can say because it is clear that Thai authorities will be made aware of his comments once they are published in the media. It is a scary place to be for the young UK man no matter how brave the face he is putting on.

Moved to a police cell containing 10 other people from an immigration detention centre

Already his friend has reported that someone has complained to the Thai immigration police about the online antics of Mr Birch. This may be true or not but in the last 48 hours, Samuel was moved from an immigration cell where he was alone to a police station where he was lodged in a cell with 10 others. It could well be that this is simply the transfer process which is normal for anyone who finds themselves arrested in Thailand for overstaying an immigration visa.

The British embassy, like most other foreign embassies, will categorically not pay for fines or travel costs needed to buy the UK man his ticket out of prison and home. 

Kiwi who created a $50 million ‘legal high’ drugs empire in New Zealand dies in Thai prison after visa arrest