A British tourist holidaying with his wife and baby son was choked to death in a fight at a hotel on the Thai island of Phuket on Wednesday.
According to local police, Amitpal Sing Bajaj, 34, died in the early hours of Wednesday after an altercation with a man staying in the hotel room next to his family's. Roger Bullman, a 54-year-old Norwegian reported to be a martial arts expert, was charged with manslaughter and trespass by act of violence.
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Colonel Prawit Sutthirueangarun, the police chief, told The Phuket News that the two men clashed in the five-star Centara Grand Resort on Phuket’s west coast after Mr Bajaj complained that Mr Bullman was making too much noise. Officers called to the hotel at around 4am found Mr Bajaj face down in front of his room, while Mr Bullman had a wound on his left shoulder and bruises on his face.
Police alleged Mr Bajaj had taken a steak knife to confront the Norwegian and had stabbed him in the shoulder, while at least one bottle was used in the fight. Speaking of Mr Bajaj, Colonel Prawit said: “His nose and mouth were bleeding. His breathing was weak.”
Mr Bajaj was taken to Phuket’s Patong Hospital, where he died. His wife, a Singaporean who has not been named, said that Mr Bullman was singing on his balcony before her husband confronted him. She claimed that Mr Bullman later kicked down a door to get to the family’s room.
Maj Techin, another police officer responding to the incident, told The Phuket News: “The suspect did admit he had the victim in a choke hold. The Norwegian man told me that he just wanted to stop the victim, but he used too much strength.”
Colonel Prawit added: “Mr Bullman was bigger and stronger, and had Mr Bajaj in a hold with his arm across his neck… a security guard arrived at the scene and saw Mr Bullman on top of Mr Bajaj while choking him with his arm. The security guard shouted at Mr Bullman to stop, which he did immediately.”
Mr Bullman was reportedly staying in the resort with his wife, and was released by officers after posting bail at Phuket Provincial Court. Norwegian media reported that bail was posted at around 200,000 baht (£5,300).
If convicted of manslaughter Mr Bullman faces up to 15 years in jail. His charge of trespass by act of violence carries a fine of up to 10,000 baht (£266) and a potential jail sentence of up to five years.
Phuket is one of Thailand’s most popular holiday destinations, with over five million tourists heading there each year. At 210 square miles it is the southeast Asian country’s largest island, with crowds drawn to its beaches, national parks and luxury resorts.
In 2017 around one million British nationals visited Thailand.