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Headmaster pleads guilty to murders

Headmaster pleads guilty to murders

A former school headmaster pleaded guilty to charges of multiple murder in the armed robbery of a gold shop in Lop Buri province on Jan 9, at a hearing in the Criminal Court yesterday.

Prosecutors arraigned Prasittichai “Golf” Khaokaew, 38, a former director of Wat Pho Chai School in neighbouring Sing Buri province, on nine counts.

He was charged with murdering people to pave the way for another offence, attempted murder to pave the way for other offences, robbery at night with use of firearms and a vehicle that led to deaths and serious injuries, illegally discharging a firearm in a public place, illegally carrying a firearm in public, illegal possession of weapons and ammunition, illegal possession and use of unregistered weapons, using unregistered weapons to kill and rob others, and using weapons to commit murder and robbery.

The prosecution said Mr Prasittichai, armed with an automatic 9mm pistol fitted with a silencer, entered the Robinson Department store in Lop Buri’s Muang district on Jan 9 to rob the Aurora gold shop. He then shot dead three people and wounded four others before making off with 33 gold necklaces worth 664,470 baht and then fleeing on a motorcycle.

He is accused of shooting dead security guard Theerachat Nimma, two-year-old Panuwit Wongyoo, and gold-shop employee Thidarat Thongthip.

Prosecutors opposed bail, saying Mr Prasittichai posed a flight risk. They asked the court to convict and punish him, as well as force him to return a missing gold necklace and amulet worth 13,955 baht.

Most of the stolen gold was found hidden in the roof of the carport in his father’s house.

After hearing the charges, Mr Prasittichai pleaded guilty on all counts. The court scheduled witness and evidence examination for March 23 and ordered the suspect be returned to Bangkok Remand Prison.

No bail application has been made since his arrest last month.

Police arrested Mr Prasittichai on Jan 22 in Lop Buri, two weeks after the murder-robbery, as he travelled to school in Sing Buri where he was only recently appointed headmaster.

Mr Prasittichai initially told police and reporters that he robbed the gold shop for excitement. He later admitted his real motive was financial problems.

Media reported the accused owes more than 2 million baht to teachers’ cooperatives and Krungthai Bank.

Investigators said that Mr Prasittichai had previously spent 300,000 baht on a BMW Z4, which was later seized in a crackdown on illegally imported cars, landing him with a fine of 600,000 baht. He was also said to be a gun enthusiast.

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