2021-09-20 21:21:34 UTC
Luke Cook, 37, had been sentenced to death in Thailand in 2018
Thai police alleged Cook tried to smuggle $300million worth of ice in Australia
He was acquitted in Bangkok last week and arrived back in Australia on Sunday
His Thai wife Kanyarat Wechapitak, 43, was also released and stayed in Thailand
Cook will now be reunited with this two sons after doing hotel quarantine
By MICHAEL PICKERING FOR DAILY MAIL AUSTRALIA
PUBLISHED: 19:26 EDT, 19 September 2021 | UPDATED: 19:27 EDT, 19 September 2021
An Australian father-of-two sentenced to death in Thailand after being accused of smuggling ice for the Hells Angels has returned home after he was acquitted of the crime last week.
Perth man Luke Cook, 37, and his Thai wife Kanyarat Wechapitak, 43, were both freed after the Supreme Court in Bangkok quashed their sentences.
Mr Cook, a former FIFO worker who had owned a hotel and bar in Pattaya, returned to Sydney on Sunday where he will undertake two weeks hotel quarantine before he is able to see his two sons.
Perth man Luke Cook's arrest in December 2017. He stood accused of taking a yacht into international waters off the Thailand coast to collect drugs from a Chinese trawler on behalf of the Hells Angels
Mr Cook, a former FIFO worker who had owned a hotel and bar in Pattaya, returned to Sydney on Sunday where he will undertake two weeks hotel quarantine before he is able to see his two sons
Mr Cook pictured with his family. 'Luke is a family man who loves his kids,' a family friend told the media at the time of his arrest
The court decision ended a long-running saga in which Mr Cook and his wife were arrested in December 2017 and charged with attempting to smuggle half a tonne of crystal methamphetamine, worth around $300million into Thailand and on to Australia in June 2015.
Mr Cook stood accused of taking a yacht into international waters off the Thailand coast to collect drugs from a Chinese trawler on behalf of the Hells Angels.
After spotting a patrol boat, police alleged he threw a 50.4kg package of the drug overboard.
The parcels later washed up on a Pattaya beach but no DNA or other evidence linked Mr Cook to the packages.
He and his wife were sentenced to death for the crime in 2018.
'Luke is a family man who loves his kids,' a family friend told the media at the time.
'When this first happened, he did everything he could to try and get them out of the country.'
'He is innocent. He would never do something like this.'
Mr Cook pictured as Thai authorities raided the family home in the tourist hot spot of Pattaya in 2017
Mr Cook had owned a hotel and bar in Pattaya before he was arrested and sentenced to death by a Thai court
The Thai prosecution claimed high-ranking Hells Angels member, Wayne Schneider, paid Mr Cook $US10 million to receive and store the drugs before smuggling them to Australia.
Schneider's body was found naked and mutilated in Thailand in 2015.
In his appeal Mr Cook's defence lawyers said another Australian FIFO worker, Douglas Shoebridge had framed Mr Cook for the smuggling crime.
Mr Shoebridge had testified at trial that Mr Cook confessed to him about the smuggling attempt.
He said he'd been hired as a diver by Mr Cook to search for gold, but the Perth man later told him it was to look for the drugs thrown overboard.
The reliability of Shoebridge's testimony was thrown into doubt, however, after a NSW inquest into the death of Schneider.
That inquest heard that cars used to kidnap Schneider were rented by Shoebridge’s partner Siriphan Saimart, and that Shoebridge had given Siriphan 100,000 Thai baht ($A4130) to rent a house in Pattaya where Schneider was tortured and killed.
Bagnato (pictured) was sentenced in a Thai court to death after hiring four men to kill Schneider. The murder charge was later overturned
Mr Cook was acquitted after the Thai authorities claimed Wayne Schneider (left) paid him $US10 million to receive and store the drugs before smuggling them to Australia. Cook later pleaded guilty to helping convicted murderer Antonio Bagnato (right) escape to Cambodia
Sydney man Antonio Bagnato was sentenced to death for Schneider’s murder in 2017, but later acquitted and re-sentenced for assault.
Mr Cook was later accused of helped Bagnato escape to Cambodia following Schneider's death, to which he pleaded guilty.
He told the court Bagnato had produced a gun at Mr Cook's Jolly's Piss Stop Bar in Pattaya and demanded he be driven to the border.
Mr Cook insisted he know about nothing about Schneider's murder.
In a Facebook post from March year Mr Cook made a desperate plea for this story to be heard.
'I am not asking you to feel sorry for me, I just ask you to consider the facts as they happened,' he wrote.
'I was not involved in any way in the importation of drugs.'
https://www.chiangraitimes.com/crime-chiang-rai-thailand/pattaya-hells-angel-member-luke-cook-arrested-at-suvarnabhumi-airport-on-drug-smuggling-charges/ this website and another says Luke Cook was a member of the Pattaya Hell's Angels.
Someone Claiming To Be Douglas "Big Daddy" Shoebridge Contacted Me Today About More Australian-Thailand Outlaw Biker Stuff Post From Last Year.
Greg Carr’s profile photo
9 May 2020, 08:48:16
Inside the world of wanted Perth man ‘Big Daddy’ Douglas Shoebridge
Tony Barrass and Andrew Drummond
The West Australian
Saturday, 25 May 2019 11:00AM
On the other end of the phone, Douglas Shoebridge cautiously answers my questions with his. Except the “so where are you” one.
He must be somewhere in Australia, judging by the numbers dialled. He refuses to say specifically, instead asking what evidence I personally had linking him to an international sex-trafficking racket about which Thai authorities want to question him.
None, I say, but was he aware of a Thai warrant for his arrest, a copy of which was in front of me? The tone of the man named in court documents as a fly-in-fly-out worker and known to Thai authorities as “Daddy” or “Big Daddy”, switches from slow and careful to slightly irritated.
“Of course I’m aware of it,” he bites before quickly reverting to calm and adding: “All these other things are hearsay until proven otherwise.”
These “other things” read like a Quentin Tarantino creation, set in a backdrop of corrupt police, dangerous drug runners and serious, heavyweight criminals.
Perth man Luke Cook and his wife Kanyarat Wechapitak were sentenced to death in Thailand.
Shoebridge had a knack of finding himself right in the middle of it, repeatedly. He’s one of many Australian FIFO workers who have based themselves in Asia. But up there, it’s a different world to sunny, safe and well-policed Australia.
Rewind to a balmy November morning in 2015 when security guard Suphan Phithakwong heard a commotion at the up-market Pattaya residential complex it was his job to patrol.
When he investigated, he saw five men, all but one wearing silk balaclavas to hide their identities, violently kicking, punching and screaming at another man who was being shoved into the back of a white Toyota utility.
The victim, as it turned out, was Hells Angel Wayne Schneider, a boy from Blacktown in Sydney’s tough western suburbs, who had worked his way up through the ranks, specialising in the manufacturing and distribution of large-scale commercial quantities of methamphetamines.
Well-known to the Australian Crime Commission, the Australian Federal Police and various State law-enforcement bodies, Schneider had skipped Australia in a hurry three years earlier after two major meth labs were uncovered in suburban Sydney. They were dripping with his DNA.
Now Schneider was in the process of being abducted, taken to a nearby house, stripped and bludgeoned to death. His body was then taken to the outskirts of town and buried in a shallow grave, just off the roadside.
Unaware at this stage they were dealing with a murder, Thai police seized CCTV footage and within a day had located the Toyota outside of a house rented to Shoebridge’s partner, Siraphat Saimat.
Her name was also on the Toyota rental paperwork.
Accessing the vehicle’s GPS, police established that once the vehicle had left the crime scene, it stopped at Saimat’s house before heading 30km out of town — where it was stationary for two hours — and then returned to Saimat’s Pattaya address.
Police then went to the out-of-town location where the vehicle had stopped, a small bush area showing signs of recent disturbances. They followed a track and it was always only going to be a matter of time before they found Wayne Schneider’s naked and battered body in a shallow grave.
Saimat told police that, on Shoebridge’s insistence, she had rented the property for another Australian, Antonio Bagnato. Bagnato had fled Australia to the seaside city in 2014 after a shooting murder in an underground carpark in Sydney’s Leichardt.
Although his cousin was ultimately convicted of the crime, Australian police still want to talk to him about it.
Bagnato, the bikie Schneider, Shoebridge and another Perth man, Luke Joshua Cook, became close associates and hung around Tony’s Gym, where they trained, and a nearby bar where they drank.
By some accounts, Bagnato became Schneider’s bodyguard, while Shoebridge continued to work for local police as a so-called “interpreter” in the special branch, colloquially known as “Catch a Foreigner Unit”.
Police believed there had been some sort of falling out between the men, and now they were hunting five suspects in Schneider’s murder. Just days after Schneider’s body was discovered, Bagnato was arrested as he tried to enter Cambodia.
He was extradited back to Thailand.
The security guard identified Bagnato as the only one not wearing a silk balaclava on the night Schneider was snatched at the compound. Thai police then charged him with Schneider’s murder and accused him of hiring thugs to abduct the high-profile bikie.
Bagnato was ultimately convicted of Schneider’s murder and sentenced to death, but has since successfully appealed, been released, been rearrested on gun charges and is now awaiting trial on arms charges in a military jail in eastern Thailand.
Shoebridge was questioned but not charged with any offence in relation to Schneider’s murder, but his evidence against Luke Cook was pivotal to a major police breakthrough.
Cook, who had received a suspended sentence after playing a role in helping Bagnato escape to the Cambodian border after Schneider’s death, was born in Duncraig.
He too had worked as a FIFO, working in the kitchen of various mine sites and at the Christmas Island Detention Centre. After meeting his wife, Kanyarat Wechapitak, online, he moved to Pattaya, bought a bar and set up a business importing boats and marine parts.
In the months before Schneider’s demise, Thai police believe Schneider gave Cook $15 million to buy 500kg of crystal methamphetamine from a Chinese drug syndicate.
The packaged ice was to be transferred from a Chinese trawler to an offshore yacht, stored in a secret location then imported into Australia at the behest and control of the Hell’s Angels.
Shoebridge told police he was on the yacht with Cook because Cook had weaved an elaborate tale about them looking for missing gold on the bottom of the ocean.
He claimed Cook, after drinking all day, had become aggressive and eventually admitted that it was hundreds of kilos of ice — and not gold — they were looking for.
Shoebridge said he became furious that he discovered he had been lied to. He felt as though he had been used because he was a good diver and could have helped Cook find what turned out to be drugs.
According to Shoebridge, Cook began to panic because he had lost a lot of people’s money and sooner or later they would be coming after him.
The half-a-tonne of ice would have netted $300 million on Australian streets. Eventually, four big packages containing 50kg each of ice were washed up on a nearby beach in Rayong Province.
Two years later, Thai authorities launched a series of raids in an attempt to crush some of the 30-plus chapters of Australian outlaw motorcycle gangs who had set up shop in Pattaya, Chang Mai, Phuket and Bangkok.
Authorities dubbed the operations “Clipping the Wings of Angels”.
As Cook and his wife were getting off a flight from Australia, police swooped. The pair was arrested and charged over the failed drug importation. Cash, properties, cars and a range of luxury assets allegedly owned by the couple were also seized.
Last November, Cook and Wechapitak were found guilty of breaking Thailand’s tough drug importation laws and sentenced to death. Shoebridge gave evidence against the couple. They in turn claimed to have been framed by the dual Australian-UK citizen.
The pair sit in a Thai jail waiting for their appeal to work its way through Thailand’s glacially slow justice system. In the meantime, they can only hope their sentence is commuted to life imprisonment.
The latest warrant issued by Thai authorities for Shoebridge’s arrest surrounds allegations of human trafficking for an international sex ring allegedly operating out of Pattaya.
The warrant follows the appearance at Bangkok Criminal Court of Tanzanian national Sara Musa Chitanda on similar charges on the orders of Police Colonel Nalinee Chiewnoi, commander of Thailand’s Human Trafficking Police.
Chitanda is alleged to have gone through a marriage service with Shoebridge in Dar es Salaam last year. It was also alleged that both acted together in the trade, and escorted the mostly African women to Thailand, putting them up in rooms in the Asoke Din-Daeng area of Bangkok.
Luke Cook’s father, who lives in New Zealand said: “Am I surprised, no? Not at all. My son was labelled a Hell’s Angel and sentenced to death in Thailand without any basis at all. He was an offshore caterer and still working at it to earn money when he was arrested returning to Thailand”.
Australian authorities can do little until they are asked to act. When approached for comment, the AFP could only say it was “aware of the matter and any further inquiries should be directed to Thailand authorities”.
As for Douglas Shoebridge, he remains an enigma on the other end of the line — maybe he’s here in WA, maybe he’s not.
He is only comfortable giving the most minuscule of details and quietly talking in riddles. “You just need to allow me to digest this.”
Getting nowhere, I ask if he wants to give me a written statement which we will publish telling his side of the chaos he seems to find himself it. No, he says, ring me later, let us say 2pm, and we will talk.
I call at 2pm. The phone rings out.
Private message regarding: More Australian-Thailand Outlaw Biker Stuff.
4:23 AM (4 hours ago)
Please kindly remove this post, as 'The West' has removed the publication entirely due to it's fraudulent content and offered an apology. This link is now dead - https://thewest.com.au/news/wa/inside-the-world-of-wanted-perth-man-big-daddy-douglas-shoebridge-ng-b881210945z
Click here to Reply
me (Greg Carr change)
8:42 AM (less than a minute ago)
- show quoted text -
I would like to congratulate you on having a pair. Sheer chutzpah. I cannot remove the post from last year in alt.true-crime and even if I could I wouldn't. I will be reposting it along with this email to alt.true-crime and other USENET groups. Links go 404 on a regular basis for a variety of reasons especially with the passage of time. Nothing fraudulent in the original web article perhaps it is libel in which case you should sue them. The article states that you have given evidence and testified against Mr.Cook a former friend in a 500kg meth case resulting in a death sentence for Mr.Cook and his wife in Thailand. Meth + Cook you can't make this *** up. What kind of person hangs out at a gym and drinks with a big time meth trafficker and a full patch Hell's Angel while working at the police dept? What kind of moron meth importer and idiot HAMC full patch hang out with a police dept employee? If Australia has a witness protection program like Canada and the United States you should avail yourself of it. Then again hiding out in plain sight sometimes works as well. I recieved a death threat from a full patch HAer 20 years ago as well as from lower level HA ppl over the years and I am still around. Unfortunatly so are they. I read once about a Mafia informer doing the hide in plain site and it worked.https://humanlife.asia/scots-man-known-as-big-daddy-escapes-thailand-before-arrest-warrant-issued-for-human-trafficking/ has a picture of you with a foxy woman in front and repeats much of the info of the original article. Saw some pictures of Mr.Cook. What was that dweeb doing hanging out with the rest of you? I think I will be reading about you in the future on the WWW.
Sincerly,Greg CarrSurrey, BC
https://groups.google.com/g/alt.true-crime/c/25upROi7Vo8/m/MOmJpo3oAgAJ 20 Google Groups views alone in 2 years way better than the zero or one that Loose Cannon's idiotic off topic posts ever get or those of Winston Chu or Dennis Watson or Karen Eileen Gordon aka brew noser all 4 are morons.
https://groups.google.com/g/alt.sex.prostitution/c/vTjPYUU7g3c/m/bNXyw5iyAgAJ This post of mine to alt.sex.prostitution about the sex trafficker Shoebridge has 13 Google Groups views alone and that ng is dead. Shoebridge claims he was given an apology by the newspaper for its story about him but provides no link to this alleged retraction and who trusts the word of a kidnapper or pimp?
The Dad says emphatically his son has nothing to do with the Hell's Angels. The man facing death has no visible tats in the pictures of him or anything HA or even biker about him. The only testimony against him comes from a sex trafficker. At least give him a fair trial with legal representation.
My post on the matter from March 12 2020. https://groups.google.com/g/alt.true-crime/c/PiN6zSEkkwQ/m/n1-eY56CAgAJ
What happened to the heir to the Red Bull fortune who killed a ranking police officer while driving in Bangkok? The law should apply equally to rich and poor junkie or playboy famous or nobody although the rich have fewer excuses and mitigating circumstances.
Thailand drops charges in Red Bull heir case that stirred anger about impunity
By Panarat Thepgumpanat
2 MIN READ
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand has dropped criminal charges against the heir to the Red Bull energy drink fortune, who was accused in a 2012 hit-and-run killing of a police officer in a case that raised questions about crime and punishment for the well-connected.
Warrants for the arrest, including an Interpol red notice, of Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya, whose whereabouts are not known, will be withdrawn, police said.
Vorayuth, grandson of the late Chaleo Yoovidhya, creator of the Krating Daeng, or Red Bull, energy drink, had faced charges of speeding, hit-and-run and reckless driving causing death, which had a statue of limitations until 2027.
“This case is over,” deputy police spokesman Kissana Phathanacharoen told a news briefing.
“In June, we received a final order from the attorney general to not prosecute Vorayuth on charges of reckless driving and causing death,” he said.
Vorayuth was accused of crashing his black Ferrari into policeman Wichien Klanprasert, who was on a motorcycle in Bangkok, and dragging his body for dozens of metres before fleeing the scene.
Vorayuth missed eight summonses to appear in court in connection with the case before authorities issued a warrant for his arrest, five years after the accident.
He later disappeared, apparently abroad, according to some social media posts.
Vorayuth’s grandfather, Chaleo, was listed as the third richest person in Thailand at the time of his death in 2012, at the age of 88, with an estimated net worth of $5 billion, according to Forbes magazine.
Many Thais saw Vorayuth’s treatment as lenient because of his family’s wealth, stirring debate about impunity for the rich.
But Kissana dismissed any such suggestion on Friday.
“This is not a double standards,” he said, adding that the case could be reopened if there was new evidence.
“We are saddened by the loss of a fellow police officer,” he said.
Reporting by Panarat Thepgumpanat and Chayut Setboonsarng. Writing by Orathai Sriring; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle, Robert Birsel
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
Pattaya has great beaches and ppl I know who went there including multiple times had a good time. Sex tourism and bars are big there. Thailand has a very bad monarch and the democratic system there is a sad joke and opponents of the King who flee abroad are found murdered and dumped in rivers.