Thai man gets life sentence for murder of Swiss tourist in Phuket last August

The Phuket Provincial Court sentenced a Thai man to life imprisonment on Tuesday, after finding him guilty of the murder of a Swiss tourist at a waterfall on the island on August 3rd last year.

The court dismissed charges of attempted rape and sexual assault against the defendant Theerawat Thortip.

The 57-year-old Swiss victim, Nicole Sauvain-Weisskopf, arrived on Phuket on July 13th. According to the court, Theerawat went to the waterfall on August 3rd to search for forest produce.  On his way back from the jungle, he found the tourist sitting alone at the waterfall and assaulted her, intending to rape her.

The victim resisted and Theerawat, forced her head into the stream, until she fell unconscious and died. In an attempt to cover up his crime, he used a black plastic sheet to cover the body and quickly returned to his lodging, together with the 300 baht in cash he stole from the victim’s purse.

Her body was found later by a villager, who alerted the police. Following his arrest, and during police questioning, 27-year-old Theerawat confessed to the crime.

The court ruled that Theerawat put the victim in a neck hold from behind, to prevent her from resisting, and then forced her head into the water and that this was meant that he must have realised that this might kill the victim.

The court initially sentenced Theerawat to death, but commuted the sentence to life imprisonment because he had confessed to the crime.

The victim’s husband and sons attended the trial yesterday via Google Meet.

The crime occurred as the Phuket “sandbox” scheme, Thailand’s initial project to reopen the country to tourism, entered its second month.


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