Australian sentenced to death in Thailand for smuggling half a ton of crystal meth released

However, defense attorneys backed by the Melbourne-based Capital Punishment Justice Project claimed in their appeal that Cook and his accused colleagues were trapped by another Australian offshore worker called Douglas Shoebridge.

Douglas Shoebridge, who testified against Luke Cook in court in Thailand

Shoebridge, 38, a compass fitter also known as ‘Big Daddy’, said Cook confessed to his crime.

Shoebridge left Thailand in 2019 after an arrest warrant was issued by the Bangkok Criminal Court against him and Tanzanian Sara Musa Chitanda for trafficking East African women into the sex trade in Asia. from the South East.

Shoebridge testified that Cook had hired him as a diver to make three trips to search for gold that had been spilled offshore. On the third unsuccessful trip, Shoebridge said Cook confessed that he was really looking for the drug he threw overboard.

However, Shoebridge’s reliability as a witness has been called into question after an investigation in New South Wales into the death of high-ranking Hells Angels member Wayne Schneider near Pattaya in 2015 put the world in the spotlight. foreign criminal there.

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Sydney kickboxer Antonio Bagnato was sentenced to death in 2017 for the Schneider murder and the investigation learned that the two cars used in the Schneider kidnapping and murder were hired for Bagnato by Shoebridge’s partner Siriphan Saimart.

The investigation also learned that Shoebridge had given 100,000 Thai baht ($ A4130) to Siriphan to rent a house in Pattaya where Schneider was tortured and killed.

Bagnato was later acquitted of the murder and convicted again for assault, as well as being arrested for illegal firearms.

In 2015, Cook pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting Bagnato’s escape to the Cambodian border after Schneider’s death.

Cook told a Thai court at the time that Bagnato, who had rented a room in his bar and guesthouse Jolly’s Piss Stop Bar, showed up at his door with a gun demanding that he do so. drive to the border. But Cook said he knew nothing about the murder.

While Bagnato was extradited from Cambodia, Cook was sentenced to three months in prison, with a total suspended sentence of two years.

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