The callous and egregious nature of the crime committed at the Robinsons Shopping Centre in Lopburi last January deeply shocked the public not only in Thailand but around the world. The fact that the masked killer in black turned out to be a primary school headteacher, weeks later when the arrest was made, was another vile twist of fate in a story that has caused so much devastation and loss.
A murderer was served with justice in a Bangkok courtroom on Thursday when the death sentence was handed down to a 28-year-old former school director of Wat Pho Chai School in Singburi, Prasittichai Khaokaew. The court’s decisive ruling drew emotional reactions both from the families of the victims and those of the accused man.
A killer who once was a school principal in an elementary school in Singburi turned around to look at his relatives in dejected silence on Thursday morning at a courtroom in Bangkok as they lost control and became emotional when he was sentenced to death.
On Thursday, January 9th last, Prasittichai Khaokaew, also known as Golf, a well to do and married school administrator who drove an expensive BMW car, walked into a crowded shopping centre in downtown Lopburi and unleashed terror and evil.
He was masked, dressed in black and heavily armed with both the necessary firepower and criminal intent.
Within minutes, three people, including a two-year-old toddler in his mother’s arms, were dead
Within minutes, he had gunned down three people including a security guard at a gold shop, a young sales assistant and tragically, one of his bullets hit a two-year old little boy walking nearby with his devoted mom. Little Panuwich Wongyu died in his crazed mother’s arms.
The killer was using a state of the art handgun with a specially adapted silencer.
Crime flashed to news sites worldwide
The crime was flashed to the news channels and immediately drew international coverage not just in Thailand but the rest of the world. It was a callous, cowardly and selfish act based on greed.
There were few in Thailand, this Thursday, who have even scant sympathy for this monster posing as a human being.
Told bewildered police after he was arrested that he committed the crime for the ‘thrill’
The accused, at one point, told police that he undertook the crime and escapade for the thrill of it. Today, it was revealed that he had, through his lawyers, presented his weasel words to the court seeking mercy on the basis that he had pleaded guilty and that through his overreaching lifestyle, he had been driven towards evil by the fear of what would happen if he could not meet his ballooning debts.
Murderer’s wife became another victim
Mr Prasittichai’s despicable act not only took three lives that evening but later caused his own wife to flee from her home such was the vitriol directed towards her due to her husband’s shameful and inhuman behaviour.
The killer’s father was a retired police officer whose name he used to purchase the advanced firearm and to which he added a sophisticated silencer that was eventually to lead diligent Thai police to the door of his BMW car one morning as he travelled to work in Singburi as the boss of a children’s school.
Used father in law’s motorbike and purchased the firearm and silencer in his father’s name
He even used a motorbike owned by his father-in-law to commit the perverted act when dressed from head to toe in black and military fatigues, he terrified the Robinson Shopping Centre in Lopburi and robbed over ฿650,000 in gold jewellery scooped into a bag.
Most of the gold was later recovered except the lives that he took and the lives that he destroyed can never be brought back.
Court Delivers justice on Thursday morning
The killer was brought, this Thursday, from Klong Prem Central prison in Bangkok to courtroom 714 at the Criminal Court on Ratchadapisek Road. Therein, the grim sentence was handed down.
The judgement made it clear that the court was satisfied that, based on the evidence before it, the man had carried out the crimes.
It noted that his confession, and evidence given to police, was of some value but observed that he failed to give testimony to the court while pleading guilty to his appalling crimes.
Guilty of intentionally murdering 2-year-old Panuwich Wongyu, a young woman and guard
The court pointedly noted that the murderer had not surrendered himself to police despite later explaining to investigating officers that he knew, all along, that his arrest was inevitable.
The court also held that when Mr Prasittichai raised his pistol that night to gun down the security guard, Mr Theerachat Nimma and young shop assistant Thidarat Thongthip, in the commission of the gold shop robbery, he also was responsible for the consequence of this which was the intentional murder of little 2-year-old, Panuwich Wongyu.
No basis for mercy under the law
Overall, on that basis, the court judged that there was no possibility of remitting the heavy sentence that should be applied to Mr Prasittichai.
It said that his actions must be answered with justice and sentenced him to death.
It noted the seriousness of the crimes and further judged the man to be a real threat to society.
The strong judgment of the court led to emotional outbursts from some relatives of the victims but when the death sentence was imposed, the killer’s family also reacted. Some of them sobbed openly in court.
This caused him to turn and observe some little instance of the grief and pain he inflicted with his 9mm handgun fitted with an advanced noise suppressor.