Cabbie charged with killing American

Police have arrested a taxi driver who allegedly stabbed to death an American passenger on Sukhumvit Road, Bang Na on Saturday night after an argument over the fare turned into a violent struggle.

Suspect Cherdchai Utamacha is taken to a press conference at Metropolitan Police Bureau on Sunday. (Photo by Thanarak Khoonton)

Police apprehended Cherdchai Utamacha, 32, at his apartment in Bangkok’s Prawes district early Sunday morning, Pol Col Tawatkiat Jindakuansanong, chief of Bangna police station, said.

Mr Cherdchai was accused of using a large knife to kill Troy Lee Pilkington, 50, after they had an argument that became a fight to the death near Sukhumvit Soi 68 in the Bang Na area at about 8.30pm on Saturday night. 

Pilkington’s body was found in front of a tailor's shop, Miss Saturday, near the soi. 

Pol Col Tawatkiat said Mr Cherdchai admitted killing the American. 

The cab driver from Roi Et province told police he picked up Pilkington opposite Central Bangna department store to take him to his residence in Sukhumvit Soi 85. 

When he reached the spot where the fatal attack took place, the road was jammed with traffic. Pilkington yelled at Mr Cherdchai and claimed he had cheated him on the fare. He got out of the car and walked away with the taxi meter showing 51 baht.

Mr Cherdchai opened the front passenger's window to ask for money from Pilkington but the passenger threw an empty coffee cup at him. 

Angry at Pilkington’s departure and his refusal to pay the fare, Mr Cherdchai took an 18-cm-long machete from the taxi’s trunk. He claimed he only grabbed the weapon to threaten Pilkington but the passenger resisted him by running toward him in an effort to hurt him. 

Mr Cherdchai claimed he panicked and slashed the man several times before they both wrestled for a short while. The cab driver said Pilkington fell to the ground but did not think he would die, and he fled the scene in his taxi.   

After the attack, he dumped the machete into a canal in tambon Bang Pla of Bang Pli district in Samut Prakan province. He threw away his shirt at the mouth of Soi Kanchanaphisek 45 in Bangkok’s Prawes district.

Police have recovered both items from the two spots.

Pol Col Tawatkiat said the slain American had lived in Thailand for more than three years and could speak Thai fluently. He had a Thai girlfriend and lived with her in Soi Sukhumvit 85.   

Mr Cherdchai has been charged with murder and carrying a weapon in public, the officer added. 

Related search: murder, stabbing, American, taxi driver, Bangna

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