Briton freed from Thai prison as court quashes drug charge


AFP

BANGKOK — A British man sentenced to death on drugs charges in Thailand said Wednesday he was “ecstatic” after the Supreme Court overturned his conviction, clearing the way for his return home.

Jody Aggett, 30, was arrested in November 2001 along with his pregnant Thai girlfriend after police uncovered a drugs operation in the Bangkok apartment building where they were staying.

They denied knowing anything about the ecstasy production upstairs but were convicted and sentenced to death.

After two years on death row, their sentences were commuted to life in prison and the Supreme Court has now overturned their convictions completely.

Aggett was handed over to immigration officials on Tuesday, officials said.

“He’s been released from prison but he’s still held by immigration officials,” British embassy spokesman Daniel Painter told AFP.

Thai immigration officials said they were working with the embassy to sort out remaining issues surrounding his visa and his release.

When asked about his release date, an immigration officer passed his cellphone to Aggett, who said he was told he could return home on Sunday.

“I’m ecstatic really,” he told AFP.

“I’m going, but I think I’m being deported as well,” he said before the officer took back the cellphone.

Aggett’s son Ryan was born while he and his girlfriend, identified by lawyers as Christin Lo, were in prison.

Aggett’s parents came to take the baby back to Britain, where they have been raising him in Aggett’s home town of Swindon. Ryan is now five.

Lo has already been released and was staying with her family in Bangkok, officials said.

The Supreme Court overturned the conviction because prosecutors had failed to present any evidence against them, said Catherine Wolthuizen, chief executive of Fair Trials Abroad, a London-based group that helped with his appeal.

“There was never any grounds to find them guilty,” she said.

“Jody was convicted on the unsworn evidence of an unknown police informant, who was never brought before the court and never named,” she said.