Traveller is arrested, thrown in a hellish Thai jail and has his dreadlocks shaved off for picking up a lost mobile phone and trying to hand it in
Before: British Tattoo artist Chris Dodd pictured in Thaioland before guards shaved his dreadlocks off
A British man who spent 12 days in a squalid Thai prison after picking up a lost mobile phone has returned home to his family.
Chris Dodd, 29, found the device in the gutter outside the airport in Chiang Mai and intended to hand it in after he got to his hostel.
But his act of kindness led to the former grammar school student and vicar’s grandson spending 12 days behind bars charged with theft after he was spotted on CCTV by Thai police and he faced up to five years in prison.
During his time in prison guards shaved off his dreadlocks.
Now, following a crowdfunding campaign and more than a month left in limbo, he has finally returned home with all charges against him dropped.
More than £20,000 was raised, all of which has been spent in the campaign to return Chris to Britain.
His family and their lawyers were able to apply for a ‘non-prosecution order’ which was approved by the Thai Courts last week.
The order, which cost about £5,000 alone, forced police to withdraw all charges against the tattoo artist and allow him to fly home.
In Thailand it is a crime to unlawfully take property that is not yours, so just by moving the phone Chris was breaking the law.
Harsher penalties can also be imposed for thefts committed at an airport and at one point his parents, Mike and Fiona, feared their son could be facing five years in prison.
Chris flew into London on Friday afternoon and returned home with a party planned at Mike’s local golf club.
Dad Mike, a pro-golfer, said: “It’s just such a relief to be honest with you.
“His mother and girlfriend have been out there with him recently and it was an emotional experience when they all got back.”
Back home: Chris was arrested because in Thailand it is a crime to unlawfully take property that is not yours, so just by moving the phone Chris was breaking the law
He added: “The way it worked was that Chris had to report to Thai police every 12 days as part of his bail conditions.
“After returning a few times, the police finally got their report in which meant we were then able to work against it.
“We were able to apply through the courts for a non-prosecution order and thankfully it was approved.
“We’ve used up pretty much every penny of the crowdfunding campaign and I’m so grateful to everybody who donated to our cause.
“Without them we would have been looking at selling the house, which we would have done, but it would have been incredibly tough.”
Chris had been travelling in south-east Asia for several months and was due to return to the UK on March 14.
But at the start of the month he picked up a phone that was in the gutter at the taxi rank outside Chiang Mai airport, planning to find somewhere to hand it in after he had checked into his accommodation.
Chris was staying just a ten-minute drive from the airport and left the phone in his room while and a friend went to get some food but returned to find the Thai police waiting for him.
He was kept in a Thai prison for 12 days before his family were able to start fundraising and hire lawyer to get him released on bail, but he was placed on a no fly list and had his passport confiscated.
Chris then had to go to court every 12 days to check on the progress of his case. After 48 days his lawyers were able to provide evidence and the money to make the non-prosecution order.
They got a letter from the backpacker who had lost the phone saying she knew he was not trying to steal her phone and did not want him to go to prison, as well as evidence from British police that Mr Dodd had never been convicted of any crimes in the UK.