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More on Tragic Murder of Yachtsman in Thailand

By Val Ellis last modified Mar 31, 2009 11:13 PM

Published: 2009-03-31 23:13:42
Topics: Piracy Reports 2009

Received from Phillip Gibbins, March 26th 2009

Royal Phuket Marina

It is in a state of grief and disbelief we write this account of the recent tragic event which culminated in Malc's murder, to inform mutual cruising friends as well as others sailing these waters. Some of you may have read media reports but this is a succinct version of Lindie's own story :-

On Tues 24th March Mr Bean was lying to a buoy off the SE side of Koh Adang in the Butang Group (20nm NW of Telaga, Langkawi). At around 00.30 three teenage, illegal immigrants from Myanmar swam out and climbed aboard, where they attacked Malc in the bow incapacitating him, then Lindie in the aft cabin. She was trussed with rope. Malc subsequently came round and challenged them, telling them to get off the boat. Lindie heard a scream then nothing more.

They eventually came to get her to assist in starting the engine. As she went through the saloon she realised that the sticky substance beneath her feet was a large quantity of thick blood. She was returned to the forepeak. They stormed off at full throttle for around six hours probably heading east around the north of Koh Tarutoa before anchoring in a bay on a small island about 1nm off the Thai mainland near Langu. There they trashed the boat before leaving at around 10am in the dinghy with an unreliable 2HP engine. Lindie managed to escape, start the engine and get up the anchor before they could paddle back to Mr Bean.

She went to a nearby fishing fleet to get help and when the Taratoa Park Rangers and police arrived they took-off and quickly arrested the attackers. Lindie was detained in hospital, very distraught and bruised by hammer blows and bindings. We think Malc's body was thrown overboard within an hour of the boat setting off and it has not as yet been found. The hammer and knife used in the attack were both from Mr Bean.

This we believe may be a one-off in special circumstances where the three Myanmar culprits escaped from a Thai fishing boat where they were been treated as slaves. How what they claimed was a raid to get food went so terribly wrong we will never know. They were all in their teens, the youngest being 15. Perhaps a return to the Caribbean tactic of locking yourself in at night when in remote anchorages should be considered.

Words cannot discribe the exceptional support that Lindie has received from the British Embassy, Royal Thai Police, Hospital and Tourist Authority. There have been countless expressions of kindness from every quarter.

We were involved when, along with the family, Lindie told the embassy staff of Dave & Di on Amoenitas in Phuket. The local Honourary Consul traced us to the hardstand at the Royal Phuket where the teak decks are being replaced. We took-off in a car on a seven hour drive to be with her for the day before their four children arrive.

This is a very brief description of a long and harrowing experience during which Lindie spent the whole night pleading for her life. There is much, much more to tell but not in this format.

May you always cruise in secure tranquility,
Dave & Di

A further update passed on to Noonsite by Phillip Gibbins on 31st March 2009

PHUKET CITY: After days of searching, the body of slain British sailor Malcolm Robertson was recovered by fisherman about 10 nautical miles north of Satun’s Lipeh Island at about 3pm today.

A source in the Marine Police said the fishermen are now bringing Mr Robertson’s remains by boat to Tu Tae Lam Pier in Satun’s La-Ngu District, where it is expected to arrive at about 7pm tonight.

Officials monitoring the case say a report on Friday that the missing man’s body had been found was incorrect – only debris from the yacht had been seen.

Three Burmese men, aged 17, 18 and 19, have said they climbed on to the Robertsons’ yacht because they were starving after fleeing to a nearby island from rough conditions on a Thai fishing vessel.

The discovery of the body diminishes the chance that the youths will be able to avoid murder charges and possible death sentences.

They claim they went two days without food and were challenged by Robertson while desperately searching his yacht for food.

The eldest of the three reportedly confessed to both Thai police and a British photographer that he killed Robertson with a hammer after a struggle, then lowered the Englishman’s body into the sea.

The man’s wife, Linda Robertson, confirmed the identity of the attackers and gave testimony in local courts on Friday.

Mrs Robertson was tied up during the ordeal, but managed to haul in the anchor and motor away to safety after the Burmese men left in a dinghy on Tuesday morning, about 10 hours after sneaking on board.

In an interview by phone, she expressed relief yesterday that the trio had been caught so swiftly by the police, whose efforts she lauded.

She said she certainly felt the youngest of the Burmese was anguished about her husband’s death, but she was not sure if the older pair were as remorseful as they said. But she felt it was "irrelevant" if they faced a murder charge or manslaughter, as "it wouldn’t bring Malcolm back".

She and her husband left the UK 10 years ago to sail around the world, but "loved Thailand so much" they remained here for three years. On Saturday, she and the couple's four children, all in their 30s, held a service on the yacht Mr Bean to remember Malcolm.

"The family are with me, and that is a huge difference," she said, adding that the service brought out laughter, as well as tears. "I wasn’t quite as horrified to be on the boat as I thought I’d be," she said.

-- Phuket Gazette 2009-03-30