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Australian tourist Thomas Keating yesterday accepted a plea of guilty to the charge of reckless driving causing death for the jet-ski accident last Sunday that killed his girlfriend of two years, Emily Collie, 20, in a move that police say will expedite proceedings against him.
“During the seven hours while investigators questioned him, he accepted a plea of guilty,” Karon Police Chief Col Sanya Thongsawad confirmed to The Phuket News this morning (Feb 10).
“In his statement to police, he explained that on Sunday Feb 5, 2017 he and his girlfriend rented jet-skis at Karon Beach,” Col Sanya said.
“A big wave surged while they were zigzagging, causing the two jet-skis to collide,” he explained.
“Mr Keating was very sad while recounting all this to the investigators,” Col Sanya said.
Explaining the seven hours taken to question Mr Keating, Col Sanya said, “When we were first questioning him with his lawyer, he rejected the charge. At 12:30pm, we took a two-hour break for lunch.
“He returned with his lawyer at 2:30pm and during the following three hours he accepted the charge,” Col Sanya said
Col Sanya noted that the guilty plea is now very likely to expedite the case through court.
“Now that Mr Keating has accepted a guilty plea, this case will go through the courts within two weeks,” he said.
“Accepting the charge is a good thing, because the sentence will be reduced,” he added.
However, Mr Keating’s case will not be in court for at least a week, Col Sanya noted.
“Mr Keating will not go to court until all the documents from Karon Police have been sent to the Public Prosecutor, who will draft an indictment to the court and then the court will call Mr Keating to trial,” he explained.
“This will take at least eight to nine days,” Col Sanya said.
Mr Keating has been emotionally devastated by the accident. On Monday he posted on Facebook, “I’m so broken and I know I’ll never never be able to mend … I’ll always be your boy and you’ll always be my girl! We had so many plans for our future Emmy.”
Ms Collie’s family this week issued a statement to the media expressing their strong support for Mr Keating.
“This was a tragic accident. We do not believe anybody was at fault. In particular, we do not place any blame on Tom Keating, who we care about very much and who we know loved Emily deeply,” said the statement, issued by Emily’s parents, Ian and Sally Collie.