Page last updated at 13:03 GMT, Tuesday, 20 March 2007

'It was the slaying of innocents'

by Malcolm Prior
BBC News, Berkshire

Gerry Pontet
Mr Pontet visits the scene of the boys' deaths regularly

In a copse hidden away in the corner of a field deep in rural Berkshire lies a makeshift memorial.

A single school tie and a lamp mark the spot where 14-year-old Nuttawut Meechao - known as T.Wood Nadauld - was found dead alongside his friend Steven Bayliss.

The sounds of children at play in the grounds of a nursery at the end of the path make for an incongruous soundtrack for this bleak, final resting place.

"It's really nice here when all the bluebells are growing up - there can be beautiful bluebells everywhere.

"Curiously nothing grows in there, where they died, nothing grows in there," Gerry Pontet, T.Wood's guardian, explains as he visits the site off Evendon's Lane in Barkham.

Tom [Palmer] is not mad, he is bad
Gerry Pontet, Twood's guardian

Mr Pontet, who has been the companion of T.Wood's mother, Sumintra, for 10 years, comes to the site where the two boys were repeatedly stabbed by their friend in September 2005 every couple of months.

He often lays white flowers - T.Wood's favourite to give to his mother - in the hollow where the boys' bodies were left.

Although some of T.Wood's ashes were laid to rest with Steven's remains, for Mr Pontet, this will always be a final resting place for T.Wood, "a perfect teenager".

He said: "Steve's family were so kind that they allowed us to put some ashes in with Steven but, you see, T.Wood's blood ran out of his body and this is where that blood went.

"It went into the soil here. For me this is where he is."

T.Wood and his mother on the first day of school - picture courtesy of Gerald Pontet
T.Wood came to the UK in 2003 unable to speak English

T.Wood came to England in January 2003, aged 12, after leaving boarding school in Thailand, the country to where his mother has returned to stay with her own mother during the trial.

"My son was my prince and he is gone. I miss him so much I want to die," said Ms Nadauld in a statement to the BBC News website.

"I stay alive because my mum is getting old and she needs me not because I want to be alive. Inside I am dead and I don't care about anything anymore - just my mum, that's it."

T.Wood lived in Finchampstead, near Wokingham, with his mother, her then-husband Roger, and step-sister Chantelle.

Twenty-year-old Chantelle remembers T.Wood as a happy teenager with huge respect for his new family who could always cheer her up with cheeky grin.

Chantelle Nadauld
T.Wood's stepsister said she still thinks of him every day

"I think about him every day. It's hard not to," she said.

"T.Wood is still part of what I do and part of me. He may not be here physically but he will always be in my head."

At first, T.Wood - who excelled at Thai kickboxing - was unable to speak English and, Mr Pontet says, was nervous about bullying in his new school.

But he soon made friends in and around the village - among them Thomas Palmer, the teenager who was to go on to kill him.

On Tuesday, Palmer, now 20, of Blagrove Drive, Wokingham, was found guilty at Reading Crown Court of the murders of T.Wood and Steven.

Mr Pontet said Palmer was a quiet, unassuming youth but T.Wood would often be puzzled by his behaviour.

However, he insists there were no clues as to the violence that would eventually surface.

Mr Pontet said: "You always warn your child about straying away from the beaten path, talking to strangers, but when it's their own friend... you do not expect someone you know and trust to kill them, apparently for no reason.

A memorial poster pinned to a tree
At the time the boys' friends left tributes at the scene

"There are certain aspects of the evidence that make it very clear to me in my mind that Tom is not mad, he is bad.

"There are some people who are just naturally bad. Unfortunately, we didn't realise it until it was too late."

The shock at the horrific events of 11 September, 2005, was felt no less keenly by the friends of the boys who made up the tight-knit group that had spent the summer holidays together.

Adam Arnold, 18, who had known Steven since their first day at Emmbrook School back in 2000, said at first people feared it was a random killing.

On finding out Palmer had been later arrested, he said: "That was a big shock. I don't really know what I thought and I can't explain it. There's no explanation for murder. Nothing at all."

Despite the crown court jury hearing of Palmer's ongoing obsession with knives, Mr Pontet is adamant T.Wood and Steven had no such interest.

He said: "They had no time for knives. They were just boys - they were not troublemakers.

"It was the slaying of two innocents."

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24 May 06 |  Berkshire

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