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Belfast father's firing squad nightmare

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Thomas McAuley under arrest in thailand

Thomas McAuley under arrest in thailand

Thomas McAuley talks to Sunday Life about the arrest of his son also named Thomas who was arrested in Thailand

Thomas McAuley talks to Sunday Life about the arrest of his son also named Thomas who was arrested in Thailand

Thomas McAuley under arrest in thailand

Thomas McAuley under arrest in thailand

Thomas McAuley under arrest in thailand

A Belfast man will know in six weeks time whether he is to be executed.





Tommy McAuley, 49, is staring at the death penalty following his arrest in the sunshine Pattaya beach resort last year.

The father of two, whose trial starts on July 1, has been accused of selling heroin, crystal ice and cannabis to local teenagers.

If found guilty he faces a firing squad or life in prison.

The Shankill Road man's father, Tommy Snr, last night urged his son to “keep the faith” and to know his entire family was behind him.

“Tommy needs to keep the faith and hope for the best even though he has been stitched up and thrown to the wolves,” said his worried dad.

“But he's innocent, he needs to believe in himself, and if he can do that hopefully justice will be done.”

Tommy, who has lived in Thailand for 10 years, was arrested in a hotel in Pattaya in April 2009.

Police say they discovered 109 grammes of crystal ice on him, and a search of a car he had been using uncovered 12 grammes of heroin, seven methamphetimate tabs, 11 grammes of cannabis, as well as scales and bags for packing drugs.

Police immediately accused Tommy of being a “major drug dealer in Pattaya”.

However, Tommy Snr insists his son was framed and is now being persecuted because he is going to court to prove his innocence.

“My son was stitched up. He borrowed the car from a friend to move a plasma television, he had no idea what was inside,” said Tommy Snr.

“He was in a hotel when the police came. They didn't find any drugs on him and the stuff that was in the car wasn't our Tommy's.

“The cops’ story is riddled with holes. First of all they said they caught Tommy on the beach selling drugs, then they changed that and said he was arrested outside a supermarket selling drugs. Now they admit he was lifted at the hotel.

“The police also said they had seven witnesses after Tommy's arrest, but now they have only two because five of them have withdrawn their statements.

“The whole case stinks.”

After his arrest Tommy was held for six months in the notorious Bangkwang 'Bangkok Hilton' Prison.

However he was moved to the Klomg Pnem Hospital building at Christmas after developing blood clots in his legs.

Tommy has spent 2010 lying in bed contemplating possible execution or life behind bars.

Relatives have been doing their best to keep his spirits up and wire him up to £300 cash each month.

The north Belfast man uses the money to pay for lawyers and meals in the hospital.

“If we didn't send the money Tommy would have to live on fish-heads and rice,” explained his dad.

“He uses it to buy half-decent meals. He's in a bad way, but at least he isn't in the jail any longer.

“He wrote to us and told us what that hell-hole was like. There were 60 to 70 people to a cell, and they all had to sleep on the floor.

“The water was only turned on for five minutes every day and the only toilet was a hole in the floor. Three prisoners were murdered while he was in there.”

Tommy, who travelled to Thailand on an Irish passport, is being assisted by the Irish consulate.

He is also helped by Glaswegian-born Buddhist monk called Fra Lewis, who regularly helps out foreigners who find themselves in trouble with the police.

Tommy's plight has cost his family a fortune, with dad Tommy Snr and mum Georgina having to re-mort

gage their terraced home in the Glencairn estate to pay his legal fees.

“We've already paid for £4,000 to his lawyer and he is looking another £4,500 once the trial is over,” revealed Tommy Snr.

“After Tommy was arrested the Thai authorities were looking £80,000 to release him on bail, but we don't have that kind of money.

“Tommy has told us not to hand over any money unless he says so because of the corruption as we could easily be ripped off.”



Belfast Telegraph