Mystery still surrounds Eastbourne man's death in Thailand

The family of a man who died after a Full Moon Party in Thailand have urged tourists to take caution when travelling.

Friday, 17th November 2017, 9:55 am
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:19 am
Andrew Apperley
Andrew Apperley

Andrew Apperley, 38, left behind a wife and seven-year-old daughter when he went missing on the island of Koh Phangan on February 13.

His body was found four days later in the sea.

Yesterday (Thursday) an inquest could not ascertain the cause of his death.

Andrew Apperley

His wife, Magdalena Apperley, said afterwards, “We didn’t get closure but I would hope this won’t be in vain and we’ll give someone else the chance to reconsider the things they are doing.”

The inquest at Eastbourne town hall heard Mr Apperley, a landlord and chef, had been travelling alone when he went to the party.

Magdalena said, “This could happen to anyone. Whether you take drugs voluntarily or involuntarily, it could be mixed with food, and you will get to a stage where you can’t defend yourself and make your own decisions. You have to be careful.

“I don’t think people take it seriously. A young man died and left behind a family and child. The damage is done, he is gone.”

Andrew Apperley

The court heard a statement from the Thai authorities which said, “It was known he was drinking and taking other substances.

“He then went down to the water where the rock headland goes down. We found out later he drowned.”

However, the family and coroner questioned this. Mr Apperley’s mother Linda insisted he didn’t like to swim in the ocean, and Mr Craze said there would have been more external injuries if his body had been floating among rocks.

The report, by police captain Suteep Chadakan of the Royal Thai Police, also said his death was ‘not murder but an unnatural death’.

Concerns were raised by Mr Apperley’s brother Richard when a friend received a chilling final message from Andrew on the night of the party.

It said, “I had a mad night all the guys wanting scary guy with the face mask.”

However, the post mortem report by Dr Mark Taylor found he had no injuries and said the cause of death was ‘unascertained’. Coroner Alan Craze said there was insufficient evidence of foul play.

He called the Thai authorities’ toxicology ‘almost Medieval’ as he said ‘they haven’t even taken a blood sample to check for alcohol levels’.

He asked, “Is it in the interests of Thailand’s tourist trade?”

Mr Craze also said there was no evidence Mr Apperley had drowned, as the Thai police had asserted. He said, “They haven’t got any evidence pointing towards drowning, for instance froth in the airways.”

He described their methods as ‘40 years behind the time’. He said the toxicology would have been a key part of the evidence to find out what happened to Mr Apperley, who enjoyed a party lifestyle and had, Mr Craze said, ‘on many occasions being in trouble with police for having drugs’.

However, Mr Craze said, “I have insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion of accidental death or dependence on drugs or misadventure.

“This will have been a devastating tragedy so I express my condolences and sympathy to you.”

He recorded an open conclusion.

Speaking after the inquest Magdalena Apperley said, “If this is a regular occurrence there are a lot of people who go there and have no idea.

“If you look on Thai tourist websites there are warnings but people don’t usually look at that.”

Asked about how her daughter is coping, she said, “A lot of this information I have to water down for her but I’m trying to be truthful so she knows the truth. She’s a small child but she’s doing very well considering.

“It’s the hardest job to tell your child that her father is dead.”

Also speaking afterwards, Mr Apperley’s mother Linda Apperley said, “If he’d gone with other people someone else would have been looking out for him.

“We haven’t had enough information from the Thai authorities. I think they want to keep the tourists coming and to that end things are kept low key.

“It makes me feel very sad we couldn’t come to have final closure.

“I think the Thai authorities need to step up their toxicology as we didn’t get a clear indication from the results, it seemed very outdated.”