Bounty set for escaped Nakhon Si Thammarat convict


A man convicted and jailed of multiple serious crimes managed to escape from his Nakhon Si Thammarat hospital bed early Sunday, police and the Corrections Department said.

The escape of Chavalit Thongduang, 37, who is serving a jail term of 20 years and three months, prompted the Corrections Department to offer a reward of 100,000 baht for anyone who provided information leading to his arrest.

Police, meanwhile, announced Monday they would seek arrest warrants for at least three individuals who allegedly assisted Chavalit in the escape.

In a press statement issued later on Sunday, the Corrections Department said Chavalit escaped from his bed on the ninth floor of the Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital at 1am.

The department released images from the security cameras of the hospital, showing Chavalit walking behind his aide out of the hospital. Chavalit was seen wearing a black long-sleeved t-shirt and black trousers while his aide was hiding his face behind a medical mask.

The department said Chavalit has been convicted of multiple serious crimes, including robbery and having unlawful firearms in his possession.

He is scheduled to complete his term on May 6. 2043.

The department said Chavalit was transferred from the Central Phatthalung Prison to the Nakhon Si Thammarat Maximum Prison on August 7 this year because he was regarded as being an “influential person” in the Phatthalung jail.

On October 20, he was sent to the Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital for dental treatment but was admitted after he lost consciousness.

Sources said the Nakhon Si Thammarat police would seek arrest warrants against at least three suspects, including Chalermpol Ritthirong and Wilawan Muenrak.

Police said Chalermpol allegedly escorted Chavalit out of the hospital and a driver, identified only as Chakri, took the wheel for the escape, changing vehicles and using two pickups and a sedan.

Police sources said Chavalit was first driven to Trang and then to Krabi and then to a border crossing with Myanmar. However, he failed to cross the border so he returned to Phatthalung, the sources added.

The sources said Chavalit faked his unconsciousness so that he could be admitted and escaped early Sunday. He was scheduled to return to prison later in the day.

Pol Maj Gen Somchai Suetortrakul, Nakhon Si Thammarat police chief, said he and his deputy have interrogated a woman hired to take care of Chavalit inside the hospital and obtained some useful information.

Somchai said the information from the woman, named only as Wilawan, could lead to the arrest of a warden, who allegedly assisted in the escape.

Wilawan told police that she was promised 200,000 baht and a house for allowing her mobile phone to be used to plan the escape and for contacting Chavalit’s henchmen from the hospital bed. Wilawan said after Chavalit fled, she received just 2,000 baht from Chavalit’s girlfriend, identified as Muay.

Wilawan said Chavalit’s henchmen tried to cut off his handcuffs on Friday night but failed to do so, leading to a warden being told to swap the handcuffs for a chain.

On Saturday, the warden chained Chavalit to his hospital bed. However, one of the Chavalit’s helpers obtained a key to unlock him from an unidentified person within the hospital.

Police also learned from Wilawan that Chavalit was given a 9mm pistol and kept it in his bed.