BANGKOK — A man was convicted by the court on Wednesday for his involvement in a model’s death in 2019, a case that captured much of the media attention nationwide.
Rachadech Wongtabutr, 25, was sentenced to 8 years by the Thonburi Criminal Court for abducting Thitima Noraphanpiphat with the purpose of sexual abuse and depriving her of freedom, which led to her death on Sept. 16, 2019.
“I’ll keep fighting … and I respect the court’s ruling. The truth is the truth,” Rachadech wrote on his Facebook Wednesday. He was granted bail while the case underwent an appeal.
Thitima, also known as Bell or Lunlabell, was a promotional model, or “pretty,” at the time of her death in September 2019. Thitima and Rachadech were hired to work as entertainers at a house party in Bang Bua Thong district on Sept. 15, 2019. Thitima was later found dead on Sept. 16 in the lobby of Rachadech’s condo.
“If I knew she would die, I wouldn’t have taken her up to my condo, into my room,” Rachadech said to reporters as he was leaving court. “I will continue fighting the case.”
Rachadech was seen in CCTV footage carrying an unconscious Thitima to his room before taking her down to the lobby.
An autopsy revealed that Thitima had been dead from heart failure and a fatal level of alcohol in her blood before she was brought down to the lobby by Rachadech.
Rachadech was not charged with rape since there was no trace of sexual assault. The defendant testified that he only touched her genitals to check if she was dead.
Five other people holding the party were sentenced to five years and four months for aiding and allowing Rachadech to abduct Thitima: Chaipol Phanna, Natee Sathitpongsathaporn, Pikulthong Boonpa, Krisda Lohitdee, and Koses Ritnithirerk.
All six were also punished for illegal assembly.
The six defendants will pay 748,660 baht in compensation to Thitima’s family, with a 7.5 percent interest per year. All of them filed for and received bail on 150,000 baht each, except for Rachadech whose bail was posted as 350,000 baht.
Thitima’s parents, Chawalit Noraphanpiphat and Supamas Noraphanpiphat, were present at court for the ruling Wednesday. Thitima left behind a young daughter, Bambam.
“The past year, it was so hard to get through each day. Today gave us a bit of justice for our daughter. We will throw a party for Bambam because she’s still asking after her mother in heaven,” Chawalit said in tears. “She’s asking why her mom can’t fly back with a plane.”
Supamas said Rachadech never contacted the family to apologize.
“Although he is going to prison, he will come out eventually. I hope he dies in prison,” Chawalit said, breaking down in tears. “My daughter is dead and can’t come back to life.”