Ex-Syrian commando arrested for killing Kiwi head of World Croquet Federation

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A former Syrian commando has confessed to the fatal stabbing of the New Zealand president of the World Croquet Federation in his Jomtien Beach apartment.

Mohammad Shanar, 21, was arrested Aug. 27 by Pattaya and Chonburi police four days after the murder of 58-year-old Charles E. Jones.

Investigators claim Shanar, who entered Thailand on a United Nations refugee visa, admitted to stabbing Jones 20 times with a pocket knife and slitting his throat during a violent argument at the Kiwi’s Jomtien Complex condo.

Condo surveillance cameras picked up this image of the murder suspect.Condo surveillance cameras picked up this image of the murder suspect.

Shanar told police he stabbed Jones only after being threatened at knifepoint with rape. Jones’ close friend, however, told New Zealand media the Syrian was a “professional thief” who preyed upon gay tourists. Jones was in the first of six weeks of a vacation after the World Cup Croquet Championships in London.

The high-profile murder played out atop New Zealand newspapers and television broadcasts and on Facebook for a week, with friends in Pattaya and family members back home saying Jones was a frequent visitor to Pattaya in between jaunts around the world to promote croquet, a sport introduced to him by his mother. Single and an avid supporter of the gay community in Christchurch, Jones was last seen alive as he went to meet a young male friend after dinner, according to Stuart Yeatman, a close friend who wrote on Facebook he often found himself in Pattaya at the same time as his countryman.

Police bring Mohammad Shanar back to the scene to reenact the muder.Police bring Mohammad Shanar back to the scene to reenact the muder.

Shanar told police he’d met the croquet boss at the VC Hotel on Aug. 19 and that Jones had invited him back to his apartment where he propositioned the Syrian with 400 baht for oral sex. When they met again on Aug. 23, Shanar claims, Jones demanded sex and, when the former commando refused, Jones pulled a knife on him.

Police responding to neighbors’ calls about a violent argument found the Kiwi’s blood drenched body lying in the middle of the floor and his apartment ransacked.

When Shanar was finally apprehended at his girlfriend’s apartment on Soi Chalermphrakiet 19, police also recovered Jones’ laptop computer, smartphone and watch. The Syrian had also changed his appearance, cutting his hair and sporting new clothes.

Mohammad Shanar shows police and the media how he brutally murdered Charles E. Jones.Mohammad Shanar shows police and the media how he brutally murdered Charles E. Jones.

Yeatman, in the Kiwi press, dismissed Shanar’s accusations and likened the handsome 21-year-old to the title character in the movie “The Talented Mr. Ripley,” in which Matt Damon befriends rich gay men in order to steal their fortunes.

Police said the Syrian has bounced around between Thailand and Malaysia for several years and had been fired from his most recent job as a chef in Pattaya.

After his arrest, police had Shanar re-enact the crime for the media.