In this Sept 26, 2016 file photo, the cut body parts of a man found in a freezer when police raided the shophouse is taken to Thammasat University Hospital for identification by a CT autopsy. The body had allegedly been kept for around eight years.(Bangkok Post file photo)
A Bangkok court has sentenced an Irish man to 43 years and 10 months in jail for attempting to kill a policeman, forging passports and moving the dismembered body of an American businessman in a high-profile case last year.
The charges against two Americans in the same case were dismissed. However, the court ordered them detained pending an appeal.
Peter Colter, 64, whose other names are William Johnson and Herbert Craig Lafon, was charged with attempting to kill a policeman, moving a body, having passports and stamps, having drugs, guns and bullets, and violating immigration laws.
He was caught on Sept 23 last year in a shophouse on Sukhumvit Road after police had arrested an American for having a forged passport and he implicated him.
Two Americans, Aaron Gabel, 34, and James Eger, 67, were also charged as they were the ones who signed the contract to rent the shophouse.
Police found seven items of guns and bullets in the shophouse, as well as 4.5g of “Ice”, a bag of marijuana and a bottle of ketamine and 10 forged passports.
The three men were also charged with destroying the body of Charles Dittle, an American businessman, by cutting the body and put the parts in a freezer at a house on Ekkamai Soi 2. They later moved the parts to the shophouse on Sukhumvit Soi 56. The incidents took place between October 2008 and January 2016.
When police searched the shophouse on Sept 23, 2016, Colter deliberately fired three shots at Mst Sgt Kanjanapong Chedej and resisted the arrest, hurting another two policemen. Mst Sgt received first aid in time and survived.
They also found four body parts in the freezer on the first floor.
The court found the testimony of witnesses — a maid, the freezer vendor and a man hired to move it — convinced it that Colter was the one who owned the freezer and ordered it moved with the knowledge what was in it.
The court sentenced Colter to life in prison for attempting to kill a policeman. He also got two years for moving the body, having and having for sale forged passports (4 years), having Ice for sale (7 years and a fine of 450,000 baht), having marijuana for sale (3 months), having ketamine (1 year and 6 months) and having guns and bullets (1 year).
Since his testimony was partially useful, the penalty was cut by a third to 43 years 10 months in total and a fine of 300,000 baht.
As for Mr Gabel and Mr Eger, the court found the evidence against them was not enough as it did not show they had bought the freezer or were involved in moving the body. But the court ordered them detained pending an appeal.