Daughter’s web campaign forces cops into action in Thai terror
THIS is the brave 16-year-old girl who has shamed Thai cops into investigating a massive corruption scandal after her father was defrauded out of €2million by his Thai girlfriend.
After putting videos up on YouTube and then staging a sit-in in the middle of Bangkok’s city-centre outside the Royal Thai Police headquarters two weeks ago, Jessie Vard has forced a promise from police that her family’s problem will be cleared up within two months.
Jessie, her brother Daire (13) and father Colin have been homeless and living from hand to mouth since the family were swindled out of seven houses worth nearly €2million, which they had purchased on the holiday island.
When children’s author Colin (60), tried to start court action to get the house back, he was threatened at gunpoint by a local Mafia Don and forced to flee the island of Phuket.
In 2011, Vard’s former Thai housekeeper forged his signature and flogged off his properties to settle her own debts.
The massive fraud involved bent lawyers, police, money lenders, land office officials and even judges.
It was first discovered after Colin’s part-time housekeeper and girlfriend Nittaya Sukumpa, with whom Colin Vard had fathered Daire, ran off with their son and demanded five million Thai baht (e113,000) for the return of Daire.
Police arrested her, and on checking the house ownership documents they found that Colin Vard’s signature had been forged and the real documents had been used to sell all the properties off to local people, including one related to a local senior policeman. Nittaya is now in Phuket Prison on fraud charges.
The real winners were a crooked lawyer, crooked land office officials, crooked money lenders and a crooked bank which lent money on the properties knowing they had been stolen.
After making waves, Arklow-native Colin literally had to leave the island at gunpoint. He was visited by local mafia figures, and local police refused to take his complaints.
Mr Vard took the case to Thailand’s Ministry of Justice, Chief of Police, local governor, and all promised to help, but nothing happened except more threats.
“I have had nine direct death threats and I have tried to complain nine times to police – and nine times they refused to take my complaint,” said Vard, who is now living in a ‘safe house’ with his family in central Thailand.
It was not until Jessie, who arrived in Thailand with her father when she was two years old, started making her own video presentations that the public and the authorities took notice.
She garnered a massive following on Facebook and received support from Thais who understood completely the country’s corrupt justice system.
Then two weeks ago, the family took to the streets of Bangkok and blocked traffic outside police headquarters garnering attention from the major TV stations and major newspapers.
“My father has received death threats. Somebody tried to kidnap me on the way to school. My father only wants to fight against injustice, but I am worried he will be killed,” she said.
After their protest, Police General Somyot Pampanmuang gave an undertaking to punish all corrupt police officers – some 20 are listed – and government officials if they were found to be guilty.
He further promised protection for the family and to investigate the role of lawyers and the Krung Thai Bank.
Colin Vard said: “Irish officials have been of no help at all. I have tried to talk to them countless times. They stopped answering their phones when I called.”