British farmer's body scattered over Thai park
By Andrew Drummond in Petchaburi, Thailand and Adam Fresco
An English country farmer was battered to death then barbecued on charcoal in a Thai national park after divorcing his Thai wife because of her gambling debts.
The body parts of Marlborough College-educated Toby Charnaud, 41, were then scattered in the park, one of the last refuges of Thailand’s remaining tigers, a court in Petchaburi, 100 miles west of Bangkok, was told today.
Mr Charnaud, a globetrotter, had travelled across the US, Australia, Africa and South East Asia before meeting Pannada, 35, a bar girl, while in Bangkok.
They married in Thailand in 1997 and moved back to England to live in West Kington, Wiltshire, for two years, where they were partners in the family farm.
In 1999 they decided to move to the Thai golf resort of Hua Hin, 200km south of Bangkok, to run the Western-style Rainbow Beach Bar but the marriage was to fall apart.
Mr Charnaud, a keen golfer who was a member of the handicap committee at the Hua Hin Golfing Society, divorced her because of her gambling debts and gave her a £11,000 settlement.
They shared custody of their five year old son Daniel, who is now believed to be living in England with Mr Charnaud’s parents.
Mr Charnaud continued to live in Thailand but in April last year his ex-wife reported him missing to police.
Several days before, on March 27, she helped five relatives and friends from her province of Yasothon in north east Thailand dispose of his body, although she denies premeditated murder.
The body of Mr Charnaud was discovered in May last year and detectives said that they found a knife with his blood and hair on it in Pannada’s car.
Three others admitted murder with provocation, saying Mr Charnaud had interrupted them when they were drinking whisky. All were also charged with possessing a gun in a public place, deceiving police and concealing the body.
Back in Britain Mr Charnaud’s sister, Hannah Allen, and his parents, Jeremy, 67, and Sarah, 70, became suspicious about the cause of his death and hired a Scottish private eye based in Bangkok.
He checked mobile phone records and discovered that Mr Charnaud, who attended the Royal Agricultural College in Cirencester and qualified as a land agent in 1985, had been at his ex-wife’s house on the day he disappeared.
When police raided the house two of the defendants, they confessed and led police to where they had found the body parts.
Mr Charnaud had gone to his wife's house to visit his son, Petchaburi Provincial Court was told. At first the relatives and friends of Pannada tried to kill him with a muzzle-loading hunting musket but it backfired. Then they clubbed him to death with an iron bar and wooden staves.
His body was put onto a charcoal fire, with 20 kilos of charcoal they had bought earlier in the day, before it was cut up and then spread around Kaeng Krajan National Park on the Thai-Burma border.
The family’s lawyer Mr Boonchu Yensabai, who is jointly prosecuting the defendants said: "The only motive can be that Pannada expected to inherit everything through their son."
In a letter to the court Sarah Charnaud, said: "For me, his mother, one of the worst horrors of his death is the fact that the first attempt to kill him failed and he would have been aware of his murderers making their fatal attack. His fear and concern for his son would have been overwhelming.
"Toby was a wonderful father to his son and it is so unfair that a small boy has been deprived of a great father and a father has been deprived of seeing his son grow up.
"We welcomed Toby’s ex-wife into our home and family until they moved to Thailand and to repay us by murdering my son is beyond my comprehension.
"I trust that the court will judge fairly and also understand that I cannot be there to hear the defence downgrade the value of human life and to hear more details of my son’s horrific death."
Ms Allen believes that her brother may have predicted his own death in a short story competition for a local magazine in Bangkok.
The story, entitled ‘Rainfall’, is about a British man called Guy who falls in love with a Thai woman and then his life falls apart.
She does not come home at nights, builds up gambling debts and he is eventually murdered by his best Thai friend who, unbeknown to him, is one of his wife’s lovers.
The story won first prize.
Hannah, who has two other brothers, said: "The story is eerie. I am sure he had his suspicions. It is difficult to come to terms with the fact that this woman was behind the murder of the father of her child."
Boontin Puipong, 31, Sattri Sripatum, 28, Nipit Satabut, admitted murder with provocation. They were provoked they said because Mr Charnaud had interrupted them while they were drinking. Sentencing was adjourned until September 6th.