Brit who escaped Thai prison 2 weeks before execution lifts lid on past life of crime

A British man has exposed his previous criminal life – including escaping a notorious Thai prison just two weeks before his execution date.

David McMillan, who was born in Bayswater, is the only Westerner known to have escaped from Bangkok’s infamous Klong Prem Central Prison.

The 65-year-old, who grew up in Australia, is a former drug smuggler who has spent 18 years behind bars – including a 10-year sentence in Australia’s Pentridge Prison for conspiracy to import heroin and cannabis.

One day in 1993 he was arrested at Bangkok Airport, just six months earlier from Australian prison.

He was caught holding two passports with different names, $ 45,000 to $ 50,000 of which were “pocketed” by Thai police, he claims.

To make matters worse, when searching the airport, Thai police found 40 grams of heroin that had been thrown away – enough to warrant the death penalty.

David swears it wasn’t his My London reports.

He said he was in Thailand because he had to collect some money he had made before his Australian arrest, but he was not allowed to travel because he was still on probation, which is why he had the fake IDs.

A younger David who shared his story

He was interrogated by the police in what he called an “underground” cell and said he was so shocked that he could barely speak

“I was a foreigner brought to them by a foreign agency, USDA and Australian police, I was going nowhere,” David said.

David says it is possible to get out of these situations in Thailand, but was unable to do so because of the foreign authorities involved.

After being in police custody for a short time, he was brought to justice, which in his opinion “was a spectacle in itself”.

He describes chaos, there was “deafening noise, clogged toilets and people walking around in chains”.

And when he was transferred to Klong Prem Prison, which houses 22,000 inmates, conditions got worse.

David, arrested under the pseudonym ‘Daniel Westlake’, said, “When you walk in for the first time, you get the worst.

In a cramped dorm in prison

“The newcomers facing life imprisonment or the death penalty are chained, but I managed to get out of there by tearing up my court papers and giving them a Thai attorney’s business card number 15G, which means” 15 grams , so I avoided that. “

The prisoners are rigorously searched and all their belongings are dismantled.

“If you have shampoo, it is squeezed out and put on a piece of newspaper, money is deducted, and bars of soap are cut in half,” he said.

“Pants are cut into shorts with a rusty old knife.”

He added that due to the fact that Bangkok is a low-lying city, the prison is often flooded “and one often lives in a lake”.

The cells were overcrowded and David claims that a cell designed for 56 people could hold up to 130 people and you would have to “sleep with your head where someone else’s feet are”.

And the food wasn’t much better either.

According to David, prisoners were also regularly tortured, including a group of “local street children” who tried to escape and were caught.

“You were beaten to death horribly,” he said. “Within a few weeks they started bleeding internally and died.

“The worst part of knowing that someone is being tortured is not seeing, but hearing.

“You can hear the bang of the heavy wooden sticks, then the screams turn into high-pitched wailing.

Conditions in prison

“And when it gets quiet you don’t hear anything – that’s unconsciousness – but you can still hear the knocking, like a carcass in a meat factory being hit with a stick.”

David was held in prison for two years awaiting trial. His lawyer then visited him and told him that he would be sentenced to death within two weeks and he knew he had to act quickly.

He says he planned his escape from the moment he set foot there and developed 15 different escape plans over those two years.

In order to break out, David had to acquire some resources, so through bribery and smuggling he received 100 meters of army rope, four hacksaw blades and a bamboo ladder.

Then one night David saw his opportunity and took it.

But he immediately ran into a problem: he had planned his escape during the day when it was noisy in prison, but it was dead quiet at night. When he started sawing the first pole on his window, the noise was “so scratchy” that he had to send a lookout to keep an eye on the hallway.

David then realized that the outbreak was going to be even harder than he had originally imagined. After 90 minutes he had only cut the bottom bar and three-quarters of the top.

His cellmate had to wedge the cut rod with a wooden board so that David could squeeze through and take his rucksack with him.

After breaking through the bars, he used the 100m rope he was trying to rappel into the ground and tore some skin off his hands in the process.

David planned his escape route

After unhooking the rope and bringing it with him, he went to a nearby prison workshop and took a number of picture frames to another factory that held long bamboo poles.

This was an integral part of the outbreak, as he used the wood from the oil paintings as rungs for two ladders – about five meters each – that he made from the bamboo.

He had to climb one of the ladders to the roof at the back of the factory and then pull up the other.

But time was ticking for David, because at that point three and a half hours had passed since he had cut his first beam.

And to top it all, he was lost. To speed things up, he glued the two ladders together and climbed up an inside wall and tipped the ladder over the other side and back onto the ground with his weight – be extra careful to make as little noise as possible.

Fortunately, David managed to orient himself when the scent of the prisoners hit him to die for.

He vividly remembers the stench as “the rotting, rotting flesh of those who are about to die”.

The problem was, he had to wade through a layer of sewage before he could set up his ladder and jump over the barbed wire and electric fence – and it had been six hours since he’d left his cell. David knew he had no choice but to move forward because getting caught would have meant instant death.

He rammed the ladder into the ground and climbed up, and because he was sweating so much, David remembered feeling “the tingling of the current through his soaked pants.”

After hanging the rest of the rope on the wire, he slipped to the ground.

He could see dawn coming, so he couldn’t escape through the moat – he had to go over the bridge that connected the prison to the land.

After breaking out of prison, David knew he wasn’t really free until he left the country.

So he went to a hiding place to collect money and forged passports that a former inmate had left him and drove straight to the airport.

Here he spent his last $ 500 on a flight to Singapore under the name of Charles McLintock.

In Singapore, he bought a bathing suit and dived straight into the hotel’s swimming pool – a feeling he would never forget since he was slumped in a maximum security prison less than 24 hours before he was slammed.

But less than two years later, David got into bigger trouble.

This time he says he was caned and electrocuted by the Pakistani police for alleged involvement in smuggling 14 kilos of opium.

“I was lying face down on this table with a clip on each toe with a rubber sheet over me so the guard could sit on me,” he said.

“There’s really nothing like being electrocuted, it’s so much worse than being hit.”

Fortunately, he was rescued by a liaison from the British Embassy who heard in passing that an “English foreigner” was imprisoned and managed to put an end to the torture.

When David finally returned to England, he stayed out of trouble but spent two years in Wandsworth Prison between 2014 and 2016 after the Thai authorities tried to extradite him.

But David insists that Thailand “actually didn’t want” him, and when he pointed out that their warrants were over 20 years old, they “accepted” it.

Now, David says he’s on the right track adjusting CCTV cameras to make a living.

He looks back on his previous life and says he regrets it because “life is very short”.

If you’d like to learn more about David’s story, you can get a copy of his book, Unforgiving Destiny. here .

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