The court found that 28 year old Teerawat Thothip intended to murder 57-year-old Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf after first attempting to rape the foreign tourist on August 3rd last and on that basis, sentenced him to death for premeditated murder. However, taking into consideration his full confession to the police, this was commuted to life in prison.
An unemployed Thai man who was arrested last August for the murder of 57-year-old Swiss tourist Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf had a death sentence for her murder commuted to life in prison at Phuket Provincial Court this week as the victim’s husband and son watched the proceedings online from Switzerland. They later thanked the court and the police for bringing the killer to justice.
The husband and son of murdered Swiss tourist Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, on Monday, thanked officers with the Royal Thai Police and officials as the Phuket Provincial Court passed sentence on 28-year-old Thai man Teerawat Thothip for the murder of the Swiss government official who arrived in Thailand on July 13th and was murdered by him at the Ao Yon waterfall on the island on August 3rd 2021.
Ms Sauvain-Weisskopf had been last seen alone walking to the location along the beach from her hotel in the Wichit area of Phuket.
Man arrested by police in Phuket. Officials recruit locals to make the island safe for foreign tourists
Accused tells the press he murdered the Swiss tourist last week in Phuket and stole ฿300 for drugs and orange juice
The accused man before the court was arrested by police just four days later in an investigation overseen by Thailand’s National Police Commissioner General Suwat Jangyodsuk who flew into Phuket for several days to coordinate local police as well as expert officers deployed from Bangkok.
Unemployed man visited Phuket’s Ao Yon Waterfall in search of exotic plants such as orchids to earn cash
The accused man, also known as ‘Bang Ree’, lived in the Thalang area in Phuket and on the morning of August 3rd last, visited the Ao Yon waterfall to search for exotic flowers and plants such as orchids which he could find a market for as he attempted to make ends meet during the pandemic.
At some point, while the unemployed technician and former kickboxer was coming down empty-handed from a higher vantage point at the secluded and scenic location where he found flowers before, he came across Ms Nicole who was foot bathing in a stream or pool.
Mr Teerawat told police that the sight of the woman had aroused him sexually.
He determined to rape her by approaching her from behind and catching her in a chokehold.
57-year-old Swiss woman resisted her attacker and began to struggle thereby leading to her murder
However, the 57-year old woman resisted the stealth attack and began to make noise.
Mr Teerawat pushed her head under the water in a struggle that had moved by then into the stream out of fear that his victim would raise the alarm.
He said he kept the woman’s head submerged until she was still.
He told officers he had pulled the woman to the edge of the water area and pulled off her pants and underwear.
At some point, a Nike shoe being worn by the woman was tossed into the undergrowth and later found by investigating police.
At that point, he told officers that he noticed the woman’s face had darkened and that her tongue was protruding.
It became clear to him that he had drowned the woman and his sexual appetite deflated.
He then covered the woman’s body with black plastic sheeting he found in the vicinity of the crime.
Stole ฿300 for orange juice and drugs
Before he left the murder scene, Mr Teerawat rummaged in Ms Sauvain-Weisskopf’s belongings and purse.
He found ฿300 which he said he used to buy orange juice and drugs on his way home.
Mr Teerawat was quickly identified by police as his red motorbike was the only vehicle that entered the Ao Yon waterfall area at the timeline of the murder and was later arrested.
He was seen arriving at the location at 10.01 am and leaving over three hours later at 1.06 pm.
In court on Monday, the court’s judgement found that Mr Teerawat intended the murder of his victim when, after attempting to control her through a chokehold to commit rape, he later submerged her head underwater.
On this basis, he was sentenced to death but this was commuted to life imprisonment considering that he had made a full confession and cooperated with police.
Charges of attempted rape and indecent assault dismissed by the court after finding the accused man guilty of premeditated murder as a family watched
Charges of attempted rape and indecent assault were dismissed by the court in its judgment on Monday.
Ms Nicole’s family watched the proceedings of Phuket Provincial Court on Monday via an internet connection from Switzerland and later addressed the hearing.
The murder of Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf led to a security review being announced by the Minister of Tourism and Sports, Phiphat Ratchakitprakarn which ordered more volunteer officers for Thailand’s tourist police, increased CCTV footage at all locations popular with foreign tourists and greater cooperation between the police forces and local communities in making the country safe for foreign tourists.
Ms Sauvain-Weisskopf was the Deputy Director of Protocol at the Swiss National Assembly or bicameral parliament in Bern comprising the National Council and Council of States.
She was among the first foreign tourists to return to the country after the Phuket Sandbox scheme opened on July 1st last year, in an attempt to preserve Thailand’s decimated foreign tourism industry.