Man accused of murdering UK national, while apologising for his actions after surrendering to police, insisted that he was provoked by the victim during a road traffic incident before he ambushed the British motorcyclist with an extended barrage of gunfire which left Neil Lewis Roger with extensive and fatal gunshot wounds all over his body from which he succumbed over an hour later while still lying on the roadside and before the arrival of his 38-year-old distraught wife who cried piteously while kneeling next to his body.
A Pattaya property developer is behind bars on Saturday night at Huai Yai police station in the Bang Lamung area of the resort city and is expected to be brought before Pattaya Provincial Court on Monday charged with the murder of 71-year-old British engineer Neil Lewis Roger on Thursday night last. Shocking evidence unearthed by police on Friday showed conclusively that Mr Roger was the victim of a deadly violent act of road rage when he was shot off his motorbike by 32-year-old Mr Apicha Boonsawat after a road traffic incident earlier on his journey infuriated the Thai man. The skill of Mr Apicha, a champion shooter, had led Pattaya police to previously pursue diligent enquiries that the UK man may have been the victim of a hired hitman or assassin.
A 32-year-old Thai man surrendered to investigating officers in Chonburi on Saturday morning in connection with the murder on Thursday night of 71-year-old UK national Neil Lewis Roger who was found nearly dead on the roadside at 10.30 pm that night just 2km from his home in a nearby village in the Bang Lamung district of Pattaya.
Police took 32-year-old Mr Apicha Boonsawat to Huai Yai police station where he was questioned at length about the killing in what appears to have been an extreme act of road rage with the suspect shooting the UK man on his motorbike after overtaking him in his car, a white Honda Jazz after an earlier altercation between the men over a road traffic incident.
Honda Jazz vehicle linked to the murder retrieved by police from a hotel near Pattaya’s Jomtien Beach
Police on Saturday retrieved Mr Apicha’s vehicle from a nearby hotel in the Jomtien Beach area of the city and are expected to bring Mr Apicha before the Pattaya Provincial Court on Monday seeking his continued detention as their investigation into the killing of Mr Roger continues.
Reports from the scene of the murder on Thursday night suggested that the UK man was shot four times although he also received an additional wound from flying shrapnel with two bullet pieces entering his back, a third below the waistline, another entering his body between his arm and torso and a projectile also penetrating the right shoulder.
Arrested on murder and firearms charges, a warrant was issued by Pattaya Provincial Court on Saturday
Police on Saturday arrested Mr Apicha on foot of a warrant issued quickly by the Pattaya Provincial Court for murder and also on a firearms charge after the suspect brought to the station a 9mm Glock handgun in an enclosed plastic case which he had used to execute Mr Roger who was on the way home from a social outing with friends on Thursday in Pattaya.
Police believe they may be looking for a hitman as they question the UK man’s friends and those who interacted with him on Thursday from 4 until 9 pm
Police pursuing the case on Friday were keeping an open mind to all possible motives and scenarios including the possibility that Mr Roger may have been the target of an assassin or hitman but some officers also suggested the possibility of a violent road rage reaction which is not uncommon on Thailand’s roads.
Distraught wife of the UK man in a pitiful state
On Thursday night, an upset 38-year-old Ms Thitiphan Kamlas, the UK man’s Thai wife or partner, insisted to police that her companion had no enemies but was instead well-liked by all who knew him.
She said she had received a call from friends telling her of her husband’s demise while on the way home to be with her.
At the scene of the murder, the distraught woman was reported by police to have knelt by the body of Mr Roger and appeared overcome by grief.
On Saturday, it is understood that Mr Apicha, a champion firearms enthusiast and shooter, told police that he had become angry after the British man had beeped at him with his vehicle horn before colliding with his car.
This led to a heated altercation between the two men at a main intersection on the road.
Car driver, in a black rage and under the influence of alcohol, ambushed the UK motorcyclist ahead on the road in revenge for an earlier altercation
His uncontrollable anger led him to fire back at the UK man in his red Honda Scooby motorbike later as the motorcyclist continued to ride home.
Mr Apicha had phoned the police on Saturday before surrendering himself by appointment.
He expressed contrition for his actions on Thursday and asked for forgiveness from society for what he did. He also named alcohol as a contributing factor.
He explained that the incident occurred at the Soi Chaiyapruek intersection in Pattaya as he was preparing to turn his car and the red motorbike honked at him before careering into his vehicle.
It is understood that an argument developed between the Thai car diver and the UK motorcyclist.
This led to Mr Apicha following and then overtaking the UK motorcyclist before shooting at him after he got out of his vehicle using the Glock pistol.
Police Superintendent at Huay Yai Station told the UK press that Mr Apicha was a prime suspect before he contacted the police on Saturday morning
Police on Friday had rushed to obtain CCTV footage from the intersection and linked roads to investigate the case and establish just what happened.
Police Colonel Surakij In-um, the Superintendent of Huay Yai police, told the UK’s popular Sun newspaper tabloid in London that Mr Apicha Boonsawat arrived at the local police station to surrender and face charges at 10 am on Saturday after contacting police at 9 am.
The top police officer gave an account of exactly what happened on Thursday night as police currently understand it.
‘The suspect told police that he drove his car crosscutting Mr Roger’s scooter around 2 km away from the crime scene. Mr Roger sounded his horn to him loudly and chased him for a while then the Briton hit his car with his fist. After that, they separated.’
Killer claims he lost his mind in anger
‘However, once the suspect saw him again some minutes later on the way back home he lost his mind, shooting the victim and running away. The suspect told police that now he feels guilty and wants to make a sincere apology to the family of Mr Roger.’
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‘He insisted that he had no intention to kill and he is willing to contribute compensation to the family who lost their loved one.’
It is also being reported that Pattaya Police had identified Mr Apicha, a property developer, as the main suspect in the case before he telephoned the police and was driven to the police station.
Police have also confirmed that they had been looking at the possibility that the death of Mr Roger was related to his personal life before discovering the vital CCTV evidence which clearly implicated Mr Apicha.
Police investigators had begun looking at all close friends and associates of Mr Roger as they probed the possibility the gun murder was a contract hit
Investigators had requisitioned the smartphones of people close to the British man as they looked at the possibility that his murder may have been the work of a hitman or assassin.
However, all this was cast aside when they unearthed critical CCTV evidence showing Mr Apicha’s car overtaking the UK man on his motorbike and stopping in front of him.
As the British man’s motorbike arrived, the gunman fired at him at point-blank range as he passed by before returning to his car and driving off.
Mr Apicha, on Saturday, insisted to police that he had never met the murdered man before Thursday night.
UK man suffered five or possibly six separate wounds from the shooting including a shrapnel wound and a reported bullet to the eye in an extended barrage
Some reports on Saturday suggest that the UK motorcyclist may also have been wounded with a bullet to the eye even though he was wearing a full motorcycle helmet when found sprawled on the road in a near lifeless state just before he expired, over an hour after the shooting which police on Thursday night estimated to have taken place at 9.18 pm with rescue services arriving at 10.30 pm after a driver came upon the seriously injured man at 9.45 pm approximately and summoned help.
Police are expected to object to bail for Mr Apicha when the case comes before the Pattaya Provincial Court for hearing on Monday.
It is understood that Mr Apicha lives only 550 metres from the scene of the murder which was searched by police on Saturday with no further evidence found.
It is reported that the suspect was joined at Huai Yai Police Station on Saturday by a personal lawyer and initially resisted police requests to make a full confession to the charge of murdering the British man although he had volunteered himself, his story and the gun used in the killing.
Relatives of Mr Apicha and the defendant himself claim that the UK man attacked the Thai car driver at a busy intersection after a road traffic incident
Relatives of Mr Apicha suggested to the press that the foreigner came after the accused man who was drunk and punched him in the face before the enraged Thai man subsequently drove after him and gunned him down.
They told reporters that they were not submitting bail on his behalf and were content to let justice take its course as he had broken the law which had to be respected.
They described Mr Apicha as a hot-tempered man but pointed out that he had apologised for his actions.
Mr Apicha has urged police to retrieve video evidence of the altercation in which he says he was initially attacked by the UK man saying he was drunk at the time which made him even more ill-tempered. He pointed out that the situation was similar for most people influenced by alcohol.
In the meantime, it is understood that the wife of the UK man, Ms Thitiphan, is making arrangements including liaising with the British Embassy, to organise his funeral in Thailand.
It is expected that Mr Roger’s remains will be cremated.