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Belfast tourist was jailed over crocodile prank in Thailand

Northern Ireland  holidaymaker recalls ordeal after stealing skull

By John Toner

A Belfast holidaymaker has told of his Thai prison terror after being banged-up abroad accused of stealing a crocodile skull.

Waleed Bradley (31) was on holiday with his pals in southern Thailand in 2014 on a booze-fuelled party rampage when he landed himself in a Thai jail.

"There were lots of cockroaches, it was dark, the walls smelled like faeces. It was really grim.

"Within about 10 minutes I was crying," admitted Waleed.

The young marketing man and his friends were on the last night of their holiday in 2014, drinking heavily and hopping between bars and clubs, when he began larking around with a crocodile skull on sale in a bazaar.

He has now revealed his nightmare in a episode of Channel 5 Star's programme Young, Dumb and Banged Up in the Sun.

"We were going all out knowing it was the last day of the holiday," he said.

"Every night we were partying, in a nutshell a bit of a crazy trip.

"We were completely hammered walking through a market and came across this random stall.

"There was a sign that said, 'Do not touch' but it wasn't really a legitimate sign so I lifted up the skull, held it up to my friend's face and held it up to my face pretending it's biting my neck, just jesting.

"My first reaction was not to put it back (but) to stash it for possible later robbery. We just went on our way and continued the night. Banter."

The boys went on bar hopping into the night and thought nothing more of their antics with the skull, but Waleed was in for a shock the following morning.

After waking up naked in a hotel room with a girl, whose name he couldn't remember, Waleed stumbled back to where he was staying and passed out after searching a nearby beach for his missing phone.

"We just heard this boom boom boom at the door. At that moment I completely crapped myself. I was in serious trouble," said Waleed.

"All I could see in the light was the officer standing there with handcuffs in his hand. I knew the Thai police didn't mess about, then I started thinking something serious had happened last night. I was really scared, really scared."

Under Thai law theft carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison, however, this increases to a possible five years if the offence occurs in the evening.

After being driven to a nearby police station on the back of an officer's moped, Waleed was accused of stealing the crocodile skull and shown CCTV images of his behaviour the previous evening.

The owner of the stall demanded he pay the equivalent of £8,000, which Waleed refused to pay, pleading with cops that he was due to leave the island that day.

But he was locked up by the police and faced a potentially hefty jail term.

He said: "At that point I was told it was a minimum of four days and I was just thinking how am I gonna spend four days in this cell.

"I was thinking if I do four days here and then I have to do four months in another jail, how am I gonna survive?"

Before travelling to Phi Phi island for their final blow-out, the lads met a pair of Israeli girls and ended up partying with them in a Buddhist shrine. They ended up offering to pay for the crocodile skull with the stall owner accepting £3,500.

Waleed was forced to take a picture with the stall owner so he could be publicly shamed as part of his punishment.

"When I got out of the police station I just ran towards the sea and dove in. We got a few more beers and wrote 'freedom' in the sand.

"How could they do that to me, like? How could messing around with a crocodile skull end with me having to bail myself out of jail?

"Thailand is corrupt in that sense," he told Young, Dumb and Banged Up in the Sun.

Waleed later reimbursed his two Israeli rescuers with the £3,500 they had paid to secure his freedom.

Belfast Telegraph

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