Young Britons flee Thai drugs charges

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The Independent Online

Warrants have been issued for the arrest of two young Britons who jumped bail while facing drugs charges in Thailand. Bond money of £10,000, posted by their parents, has been forfeited.

Judith Payne, 21, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, and James Gilligan, 25, from Pontefract, also in West Yorkshire, had spent three weeks in jail after being arrested on 3 February in Ms Payne's room at a Bangkok guest house. They were charged with possessing half a kilogram of cannabis and six grams of opium.

Mr Gilligan confessed to hiding the drugs and said Ms Payne had nothing to do with them. But under Thai law she was also held responsible because they were found in her room. Ms Payne, who was on her first trip abroad, only met Mr Gilligan on the day they were arrested.

A spokesman for the Home Office said the pair could face extradition back to Thailand if they returned to Britain.

The Thai embassy confirmed it was likely that an extradition request would be filed given the seriousness of the charges. "The fact that they have gone on the run doesn't help their case at all," a spokeswoman said. "They could now face a prison sentence of up to 10 years as the charges theyare facing concern a relatively large amount of drugs."