Lt Col Chompoonuch Anantayakul of the Patong Police confirmed that Natchaphon “Tong” Plodmanee and his father Jarat “Dae” Plodmanee were charged with attempted murder earlier this week.
“Jarat and Natchaphon reported themselves at Patong Police Station and were charged with attempted murder. Both denied the charges and they were released on bail on Jan 7 [last Tuesday],” Lt Col Chompoonuch told The Phuket News.
The charges follow a dispute between taxi drivers just before 3pm last Sunday (Jan 5) at two different taxi queues operating near the entrance to the private road that leads to the beach.
One of the queues is beside the entrance, the other is down the road in front of a local bar.
Prajop “Nuan” Chankaew – who described himself as a “witness at the scene” and not as a taxi driver at one of the two queues – told police that the drivers at the two taxi queues had agreed to allow only three taxis to wait at each queue.
However, a “black taxi” – a regular passenger car registered for private use being used illegally as a taxi – had turned up and was parked at the front of the queue near the entrance to the beach.
Mr Prajop said he walked up to the drivers at the beach entrance and asked them to not allow the “black taxi” to pick up passengers.
He said the drivers agreed, but later he saw the “black taxi” delivering passengers to the entrance of the beach.
Soon after, two taxi drivers Natchaphon and Jarat arrived in a black Toyota Fortuner.
A fight broke out and taxi driver Suwan Chaowadee, 47, fled the scene of the fight, Mr Prajop said.
Natchaphon and Jarat followed Suwan in the Fortuner and ran him down, leaving him in a heap in the middle of the dirt road before speeding off, Mr Prajop explained.
Mr Suwan in his report to police said that Natchaphon was behind the wheel when he and his father Jarat arrived in the Fortuner.
Jarat pulled Suwan’s shirt collar and shouted at his son to shoot him, Mr Suwan alleged.
Mr Suwan said he pushed Jarat away to escape while Natchaphon tried to shoot him, but the gun failed to fire.
Jarat took the gun from his son and tried to shoot Mr Suwan, but the gun still failed to work, Mr Suwan said.
Mr Suwan said that he ran and made it about 300 metres before he was run down by the Fortuner, which he said was being driven by Jarat.
Lt Col Chompoonuch was brief in her summation of the case.
“All the information is from taxi driver witness interview reports. They were fighting over the taxi queues is only presumption at this stage. I cannot make a conclusion until I find out the facts,” she said.
Lt Col Chompoonuch declined to reveal the monetary amount of the police bail posted.
“We are now looking for the gun that Jarat and Natchaphon allegedly uses to try to shoot Mr Suwan,” Lt Col Chompoonuch volunteered.
Asked what kind of gun police were looking for, she said, “It is a handgun, but not homemade pistol (Thai Pradit).”
Lt Col Chompoonuch declined to confirm or deny whether Mr Suwan was the driver of the illegal “black taxi”.
“The ‘black taxi’ is another issue to follow up on later. After the attempted murder case is finished, I will raise the black taxi issue with the Patong Police Chief for further advice.”
Lt Col Chompoonuch said that Mr Suwan’s medical condition had improved and that he had been discharged from hospital care, but declined to confirm whether police were providing any protection for him.\
“I cannot reveal the details [of this case]. This case is not finished. I am working on this case,” Lt Col Chompoonuch said.