The events of Thursday the 9th January 2020 at 8.40 pm at the Robinson Department Store in Lopburi shocked Thai people throughout the kingdom. A concealed figure dressed in military-style clothing appeared to shoot and kill indiscriminately leaving three dead in his wake, a security guard, a beautiful young woman and 2-year-old toddler as well as four people wounded for a bag of gold valued at ฿650,000.
The Court of Appeal upheld the death sentence imposed on Mr Prasittichai Khaokaew, a former school director, who on the 9th of January 2020 murdered three people including two-year-old Panowich Wongyu as he carried out a bizarre and deadly armed robbery at a shopping centre in Lopburi which he later told police was for kicks.
The Court of Appeal, on Tuesday, upheld a death sentence imposed last year on a former school director when he was convicted of murdering three people on January 9th 2020 during a gold shop robbery in Lopburi and wounding four others, a crime which at the time stunned the kingdom and for which the public demanded retribution.
The verdict of the higher court was read out via a teleconference facility from the court sitting at Ratchadapisek Road in Bangkok.
Court looked at the facts of the appalling case
It appears from the court’s ruling that the defendant had technically not appealed the murder conviction but it took the opportunity under the law to consider the matter and pronounce judgment after considering the facts of the case.
On the night of January 9th 2020, the then 28-year-old defendant, Prasittichai Khaokaew who was approximately 5 ft 7 in height or 170 cm entered the Robinsons Shopping Centre wearing a balaclava and military camouflage clothes.
The attacker came equipped with an advanced handgun fitted with a specially adapted silencer which was owned by his father and which was traced by police investigators linking him to the crime.
Police later backed this up with DNA testing on clothes worn by the perpetrator.
Bullets shot at shopping centre security guard hit the two-year-old toddler as he walked with his mother
The defendant first shot Mr Prasert Konglee, a security guard at the centre.
However, in a tragic twist to the affair, the bullets fired by the armed robber hit 2-year-old Panuwich Wongyu as the toddler was happily walking in the shopping mall with his mother, Wilaiwan Wongyu.
The little boy died as his distraught mother cradled him in her arms as panicked scenes in the shopping centre emerged, the situation made more confusing by the killer’s silent handgun.
Murdered a 31-year-old shop assistant as he fired at customers at the store wounding them
The defendant then made his way to the Aurora Gold Shop where he promptly shot and wounded two customers who had been buying gold at the shop identified as Mr Yuttakan Chunsanit and Ms Vibhavadi Chunsanit.
He then committed his second murder when he shot dead a 31-year old saleswoman at the counter of the store, Ms Thidarat Thongthip, who refused to cooperate with him.
Her father later recalled the loss of his beautiful young daughter with her life ahead of her.
The killer subsequently told police that he had not meant to kill the saleswoman but his finger got stuck on the trigger.
The defendant then jumped over the counter and grabbed 31 gold pieces and other jewellery with a total value of ฿650,000 into a bag and took off, making his escape from the store.
Killed security guard who attempted to foil his escape
He was intercepted by a second security guard, Mr Theerachat Nimma, who locked an automatic door only to be shot dead by the defendant who smashed his way out before riding off on a 2009 Yamaha Fino motorcycle with black and red trimmings owned by his father in law.
Master of lies and death, the gold shop killer’s life, actions and motives probed by police as wife flees
The bizarre and grotesque nature of the robbery and murder was confirmed when the culprit was later tracked down and arrested on January 22nd by Crime Suppression Division (CSD) police and armed officers who detained him on the road to his place of work at the Wat Pho Chai School in Singburi province where he was the director.
He was taken from a 5 series BMW into police custody by heavily armed officers.
Son of a former policeman attended a Children’s Day celebration at his school the day after murdering 2-year-old Panuwich Wongyu in Lopburi
Investigators working on the case, to their horror and disgust, had earlier discovered that the suspect had spent the day after murdering three people, including an innocent 2-year-old boy, at a Children’s Day celebration at his school in Singburi.
It also emerged that he was the son of an ex-police officer.
The killer, known as ‘Golf’, had been married for over three years but it is understood he was in financial difficulties.
Borrowed ฿2 million from Krung Thai Bank, fined ฿600,000 for owning an illegal Z4 BMW car
He had borrowed over ฿2 million from Krung Thai Bank and also, in his past, police discovered he had a Z4 series BMW seized by authorities after it was found to have been imported illegally.
He was fined ฿600,000 for ownership of the car he allegedly purchased for ฿300,000.
His school director’s salary was ฿30,000 a month.
School director pleads guilty in court to murder and other charges after Lopburi shopping centre massacre
During interrogation by investigating police officers, at one point, he told them that he had committed the robbery for the kicks knowing full well he would be identified and arrested later.
Wife forced into hiding as killer’s arrest last year drew spontaneous applause from the press and the public
After the killer’s arrest, his wife was forced into hiding as public anger over the outrage vented itself.
His arrest at the end of January drew spontaneous applause from reporters and the general public alike when announced by then National Police Commissioner, General Chakthip Chaijinda, who prioritised the case.
Cruel, inhuman and contrary to peace and justice, the court found no basis to grant mercy in the case
The court, on Tuesday, did adjust the interest payable on compensation ordered for the victims of the crime and families from 7.5% to 5% citing a new law that made such an order necessary.
However, it found the actions of Mr Prasittichai and the circumstances of the case to be so cruel, inhuman and contrary to justice and peace, that it was impossible to commute or grant mercy.
Death sentence imposed on school boss who murdered a 2-year-old boy in a gold shop robbery in January
It upheld the death sentence imposed by the court on August 27th last year, a verdict greeted, at the time, on both sides of this terrible affair, with tears and emotion.