Amol Rajan: Horrific case shows how lucky we are in Britain

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The Independent Online

Three months ago Adam Pickles, a 40-year-old former teacher at the Cathedral School in Wakefield who has lived in Thailand for the past seven years, was driving along a potholed road in Pattaya city. He misapplied the brakes of his car and bumped into the car in front. The driver of the other car was a Westerner and a violent thug.

He followed Pickles for several miles. When Pickles finally pulled over, his pursuer smashed his head with a crow bar. Pickles was left for dead. He survived, but fell into a coma from which he is yet to emerge.

Thai police were able to identify the offender because of CCTV footage from a bar elsewhere in Phuket not long after the incident. It showed him boasting to friends and imitating his own violent action. He was arrested, charged – and fled the country. On his return, he was arrested at the airport, charged with visa fraud, and thrown in jail. But Pickles' family have it on the highest authority, and multiply sourced, that the offender paid a bribe (probably around £1,000) and is now released. I obviously can't identify him for legal reasons, though his name is known.

In Thailand, doctors won't treat the ill unless they have been paid a daily fee upfront. So to save his life, Pickles' family re-mortgaged their house. His treatment cost £2,000 per day. Pickles' countless friends had to raise the money to fly him home in medically safe conditions.

This they brilliantly did, raising in excess of £70,000. Pickles is now being treated by staff in a Leeds hospital, and showing small signs of recovery. But those who love him have been nearly bankrupted by the experience, and need all the help they can get, not only to get their lives together, but to fight the legal battle in Thailand. You can support them, and find out more, at or by emailing

I take two main conclusions from this story. First, in the age of social media and the internet, fundraisers everywhere have a better chance. Second, never take the NHS for granted.

Last week, a treasured colleague collapsed in our office building, bleeding from the head. Within minutes, three medics in green suits had turned up in an ambulance, nursing him to safety. In suburban Thailand, if you're left for dead by the roadside, you get an open top van and doctors waving chequebooks. We're luckier than we realise.

I wish the Pickles family the very best of luck with their brave mission.