Sian Powell, Bangkok | August 06, 2009
SHACKLED at the ankles, with his head bowed, Sydney man Andrew Hood barely flinched when a panel of judges in Bangkok's Central Criminal Court yesterday sentenced him to life in prison for an attempt to smuggle 3kg of heroin from Thailand into Australia.
The drugs had a street value of more than $500,000
Hood had earlier told The Australian he had been promised $15,000 for the smuggling run by someone he knew in Sydney; and it was tempting because he had lost his job and his car had been repossessed.
A former heroin addict, Hood had never left Australia before, and he was only in Thailand for a few days before he was arrested at the airport.
"It's cost me my life," he said from behind the screens of a visiting cell in Bangkok's Central Correctional Institution for Drug Addicts, some time after he was caught. I wouldn't want no one to go through this."
Hood said he had not been aware of other Australians serving lengthy jail terms for drug smuggling. "I didn't research it all; it's the first time out of my country. I didn't research the penalties. I knew from the start that my heart wasn't in it, but my head was greedy."
The Thai judges yesterday said the crime was extremely serious, but the sentence had been reduced from the death penalty because Hood had freely admitted his guilt.
Did Hood, 37, expect the life sentence? Barely raising his head, he said "yes". But later, as he was escorted away from the court, he said he was "disappointed" by the verdict.
Before an earlier hearing, he told The Australian he had confessed to the crime to avoid the death penalty.
The former storeman, who lost his job when he hurt his hand, had agreed to try to slip through customs at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport in December last year with packages of heroin strapped to his legs and body. Police said they knew Hood and an associate had purchased heroin, and had photographed the scene at Hood's hotel in Bangkok.
Hood had earlier refused to reveal the name of his associate, fearing retribution. But the Bangkok court heard an Australian man, "Josip", had travelled with Hood to Thailand, met him at his hotel, and helped him to strap on the narcotics.
Thailand has issued an arrest warrant for Josip, who it appears has fled the country.
Since his arrest, Hood has had no friends or relatives visit him.
TRAVELLING THAILAND -