Couple's dream holiday ends in nightmare

A drink in a bar ended with a spell in jail, Louise Jury reports

Shirlee Cook's ordeal began on the final night of a two-week holiday in Thailand last November. As she and her husband, Brian, sat at a bar in one of the busiest thoroughfares in the town of Patong, she claims they were suddenly flung to the ground by about half a dozen casually dressed men, handcuffed and bundled into a truck.

Fearing they were being kidnapped, they screamed for assistance but no one helped. Only when they arrived at a police station did they realise that they had been arrested.

Mrs Cook claims she was forced to put her hands over her head while she was frisked by an officer, who then excitedly waved a small plastic packet in front of her face. Mr Cook, 48, was allowed to go and she was left "absolutely terrified" in a cell. The only refreshment she was given until the next morning was a bottle of water passed by prisoners in the next cell.

The following morning, Mr Cook returned with the Airtours representative, Anna Roberts, who Mrs Cook understood to have set in motion arrangements to secure her release, which she was told involved payment of a large amount of money. "She said to me the only way I could leave the jail and get sent home was if the money was paid," she said. Ms Roberts wrote out instructions which detailed the sum of 200,000 baht (pounds 5,063) that Mr Cook was to pay. He returned home to England that day and began raising the cash to be forwarded to Thailand, selling his car for pounds 2,000. The money was sent via a travel agent on the Monday.

Mrs Cook was held for five days in the same prison cell before appearing in court in Phuket. On her way to court, she claims to have watched as a man and woman, whom she believed had been assigned to her by Airtours, visited immigration and other offices with a bag of money, which she took to be the money her husband had sent. However, she saw no money being paid out.

At court, she was met by a man she took to be from the travel company but she now understands to have been a lawyer. He told her not to worry. She was to plead guilty and say that she was a self-employed interior designer in England, although this was false The man held two notes worth about pounds 25 in his hand, which she presumed to have come from the money her husband had sent; she believed it to be the fine. Afterwards, Mrs Cook was put up in a hotel by Airtours until her flight home. On the day of the flight she went to the police station to sign some forms. Mrs Cook said that as she sat on a bench at the station she saw one of the original arresting officers walking towards her. "I'll never forget this man's face. I thought he was coming up and was going to say sorry. But as he came towards me he stopped and punched me right on my mouth. I fell to the ground and he hit me. He punched me in the eye, then he ran off ... I was screaming and crying," she said.

She was too scared to tell anyone of her ordeal until she confided in a flight attendant on the journey back to Britain.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Sainsbury's could roll the lorries out across its whole fleet if they are successful
tech
Arts and Entertainment
tv
Sport
Ojo Onaolapo celebrates winning the bronze medal
commonwealth games
Arts and Entertainment
Rock band Led Zeppelin in the early 1970s
musicLed Zeppelin to release alternative Stairway To Heaven after 43 years
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmHe was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
Arts and Entertainment
'Old Fashioned' will be a different kind of love story to '50 Shades'
film
Life and Style
fashionHealth concerns and 'pornified' perceptions have made women more conscious at the beach
Arts and Entertainment
Tracey Emin's 'My Bed' is returning to the Tate more than 15 years after it first caused shockwaves at the gallery
artTracey Emin's bed returns to the Tate after record sale
Arts and Entertainment
Smart mover: Peter Bazalgette
filmHow live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences
Environment
Neil Young performing at Hyde Park, London, earlier this month
environment
News
i100
News
Prince Harry is clearing enjoying the Commonwealth Games judging by this photo
people(a real one this time)
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Coordinator

Competitive: The Green Recruitment Company: The Organisation: The Green Recrui...

Project Manager (HR)- Bristol - Upto £400 p/day

£350 - £400 per annum + competitive: Orgtel: Project Manager (specializing in ...

Embedded Linux Engineer

£40000 - £50000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: Embedded Sof...

Senior Hardware Design Engineer - Broadcast

£50000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Working for a m...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star
How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

How live cinema screenings can boost arts audiences

Broadcasting plays and exhibitions to cinemas is a sure-fire box office smash
Shipping container hotels: Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Pop-up hotels filling a niche

Spending the night in a shipping container doesn't sound appealing, but these mobile crash pads are popping up at the summer's biggest events
Native American headdresses are not fashion accessories

Feather dust-up

A Canadian festival has banned Native American headwear. Haven't we been here before?
Boris Johnson's war on diesel

Boris Johnson's war on diesel

11m cars here run on diesel. It's seen as a greener alternative to unleaded petrol. So why is London's mayor on a crusade against the black pump?
5 best waterproof cameras

Splash and flash: 5 best waterproof cameras

Don't let water stop you taking snaps with one of these machines that will take you from the sand to meters deep
Louis van Gaal interview: Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era

Louis van Gaal interview

Manchester United manager discusses tactics and rebuilding after the David Moyes era
The children were playing in the street with toy guns. The air strikes were tragically real

The air strikes were tragically real

The children were playing in the street with toy guns
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – The British, as others see us

Britain as others see us

Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite
Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them altogether

Countries that don’t survey their tigers risk losing them

Jonathon Porritt sounds the alarm
How did our legends really begin?

How did our legends really begin?

Applying the theory of evolution to the world's many mythologies
Watch out: Lambrusco is back on the menu

Lambrusco is back on the menu

Naff Seventies corner-shop staple is this year's Aperol Spritz