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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 10:17 GMT 11:17 UK
Murdered ex-pat was 'meal ticket'
Map of Thailand showing Hua Hin
The mother of a former Wiltshire farmer found dead in Thailand has said he was killed to pay off his Thai ex-wife's gambling debts.

Toby Charnaud, 41, disappeared in Thailand last March while going to visit his son Daniel, then aged five.

Charred remains believed to be those of Mr Charnaud, from Chippenham, were later found at his ex-wife's property.

His mother, Sarah, said money set aside for Daniel's education had been transferred to pay off her debts.

'Serious debt'

"We had money in this country for Daniel's education and that had to be transferred to pay off her debts," she said.

"She was seriously in debt and the motive was clearly to use Daniel as a meal ticket."

She said she understood that three men, some of them relatives of the woman, had admitted murder.

Three people were arrested over Mr Charnaud's death in May last year.

Mrs Charnaud said her son's ex-wife had admitted involvement in helping to dispose of the evidence.

Couple divorced

Mr Charnaud, who was educated at Marlborough College, met and married the woman - called Panada, but known in the family as Som - bringing her to live in Wiltshire.

He later returned to Thailand with his wife, buying a bar complex in the upmarket Hua Hin resort.

But the couple divorced after Som built up heavy gambling debts, Mrs Charnaud said.

Mr Charnaud later rented a property for his ex-wife in the countryside about an hour's drive from the resort.

Mrs Charnaud said she understood her son had gone to the property on 27 March last year after receiving a call to pick up the couple's son.

But when he arrived, a group of men tried to shoot him - but the gun backfired, she said.

He was battered to death and his body disposed of on the edge of a national park near the Burmese border, said Mrs Charnaud.

She said she understood the next court hearing would take place in September although several previous dates had been changed.

Daniel, now six years old, is being cared for in the UK.


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