The model was welcomed home at Heathrow Airport by her family on Wednesday to celebrate her birthday with balloons and a sign describing her as a ‘Bangkok Prisoner’ – Ms Montgomery-Henderson was simply refused entry into Thailand because her passport was not in order.
A successful 28 year Instagram model with 300,000 followers was held in detention earlier this week after being refused entry into Thailand because two pages were missing from her passport.
It would be fair to say that the glamour model and influencer was not too impressed by her reception when she landed at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport after flying out to Thailand.
28-year-old Lacey Montgomery-Henderson left Scotland where she lives on Sunday to travel to Heathrow Airport and then caught a flight to Bangkok. She planned a 10-day stay in the Thai capital which she indicated was work related to her thriving Instagram page.
Two pages missing from model’s passport
However, when Lacey reached the immigration officer at the border checkpoint she was met with rejection. The immigration officer on duty noticed that two pages of her UK passport had been removed which is a strict violation that Thailand’s eagled eyed immigration police do not accept.
Bangkok is a key world transit hub and as recent arrests show, it is often the target of passengers of dubious origin. In the last year, immigration police have been tightening controls especially by screening passports with the assistance of biometric technology.
Lacey explained she had removed the pages but Thai immigration police could not accept her passport
The Instagram star told her fans and the UK media she had removed the passport pages as she had spilt liquid on them
However, the Thai immigration officer told Lacey that he was not able to accept her passport and let her enter the kingdom with a tourist visa. ‘Can’t accept your passport,’ he said and repeated the phrase a number of times as the baffled and by then anxious young woman questioned him.
UK woman from Glasgow refused entry into Thailand
This resulted in more senior officials taking charge and Lacey was taken on a lift to another level where she was questioned. At length, the decision was taken to formally refuse Lacey entry into Thailand and this meant that she would have to be deported. In the meantime, to her horror, she was told that she would be taken into custody.
It is reported that the Glaswegian woman was held by the immigration police in a holding cell designed for this purpose at Suvarnabhumi airport. Lacey was allowed to keep her phone and made use of the time letting her fans know about her unfolding nightmare.
Western TV viewers animated by Thailand’s notorious prisons with hit shows featuring ex-inmates
Being locked up in Thailand is by now a cliché in western countries and very much so in the UK where TV shows and documentaries detailing the harsh conditions in Thailand’s real prisons are extremely popular and gain high viewership ratings.
The Thai prison system is professionally run and authorities are trying to improve conditions but nevertheless, anyone locked up behind real prison bars in Thailand descends into a personal hell including poor food, hygiene and chronic overcrowding including having to sleep on concrete floors in jam-packed cells with not even enough space to lie down at night.
There are many western foreigners including women already serving time in Bangkok prisons such as Klong Prem and Bang Kwang otherwise known by its doubtable title as the Bangkok Hilton.
By comparison to a real Thai prison, the cells at Suvarnabhumi resemble something like an airport hotel
Cell stank of urine and was overrun by cockroaches
Meanwhile, as she accepted her fate, Lacey complained that the cell she was incarcerated in with bunk beds latched to the walls stank of urine. She also told her avid followers that the room was overrun by cockroaches. All these reports are probably true as other inmates have told the media in the past.
Internet star’s ordeal: ‘I wouldn’t wish it on anyone’
Lacey described her experience as one that she will not so easily forget. ‘I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. It’s an experience I won’t forget quickly.’ She told her audience that she had a duty to make sure that other people do not end up in the same predicament that she had endured.
Police at Suvarnabhumi are attentive to those held
The UK woman claimed that she was treated ‘like an animal’ and while it may be an expression of her low opinion of her reception in Bangkok, the claim is likely on an objective basis to be not true. The immigration police in Suvarnabhumi based on prior incidents are known to be quite considerate to all people detained and follow international standards especially as the UK woman had broken no law. The fact that she was left her mobile phone and her ability to message and indeed hake pictures support this.
Thai prison is a different environment
If the UK woman had committed an offence and had been transferred to a real Thai prison, it might have been a different story but even in these institutions no matter how hellish they might be, there are some standards although that may be of scant consolation to those finding themselves there.
Warning to women’s 300,000 followers about having a clean passport when coming to Thailand
The internet star’s 300,000 followers have now heard that if anyone is considering a trip to Thailand that it is important to have a properly clean passport showing all visas and prior history with the full complement of pages.
Thailand popular with western 25-34-year-olds right now, part of the allure is its edgy reputation
Thailand is particularly popular with 25-34-year-olds westerners who revel in its edgy and contemporary image. Bangkok for the last four years in a row is the most visited city on earth in a respected and accurate survey based on an immense sample of world travellers carried out by Mastercard. However, it is a country where no breach or even minor deviation from the law or legal requirements is advised by foreigners. There is no grey area.
Woman safely landed home in the UK to a warmer welcome from friends and family
Lacey’s friends and family were appalled at her treatment by Thai authorities and organised a huge welcome home party for the star following her 24-hour nightmare in a Bangkok holding cell.
‘Lacey was treated like a prisoner in a locked room with cockroaches, she was humbled by the 1000s of messages mostly from strangers and has been non stop replying to keep her going,’ said one source close to the young woman.
On her arrival at Heathrow, the 28 years was greeted by family and fans with helium balloon and signs. One sign read ‘Bangkok prisoner Lacey’ – an experience this internet star by her own words won’t forget.