An international manhunt has been launched for two men alleged to have assassinated a British businessman in broad daylight near Pattaya.
Briton Miles Dicken Turner, 24, and South African Abel Bonito Caldeira, 28, fled to Cambodia through a Trat province border crossing together just after 3 p.m. on Jan. 24, less than five hours after they allegedly shot and killed Tony Kenway, 39, as he sat in his red Porsche Cayenne outside the Sanit Sports Club in Pong Sub-district.
Security camera footage showed a man resembling Caldeira exiting the gym and walking over to the Porsche, opening the door and firing a single handgun shot into Kenway’s temple. He then jumped on a waiting motorbike nearby, supposedly driven by Turner, and sped away.
Police recovered a 25mm shell casing from the scene.
Thai and international media reported that Thailand is seeking the two overseas, but as of Jan. 30, neither Cambodia nor South Africa’s Department of International Relations and Cooperation had received any request for assistance from Thai police.
While Kenway’s wife Somporn claimed her husband and father of four was a mere owner of a Jomtien Beach website-design company, police quickly tied the motive for the gangland-style murder to illegal telephone call center “boiler rooms” that Kenway allegedly operated to scam billions of baht out of British and Australian investors.
The Sun newspaper in the United Kingdom said Thai court records it obtained showed that Kenway was arrested for working illegally and that police had tried to deport him. Kenway was released on bail but was due back in court in February to face more charges of illegally hiring foreigners and working without a permit.
An unnamed Thai police investigator quoted by the newspaper said Kenway was involved in two companies offering bogus investments to people in the U.K. and Australia.
“The aim was to get people abroad to give their life savings. It was not small amounts. He was strong and pushed them for big investments. He promised them a big win. Like winning the lottery. The people who paid the money lost out. It was big amounts, millions and millions of Thai baht that many different people paid to him,” the paper quoted the senior officer as saying.
Thai media also reported that Kenway was involved in an illegal football betting website.
Pattaya police said they suspect a dispute with a business partner is behind the killing.
Thai and international media both reported that Kenway had a falling out with a boiler room partner who supposedly owed him 8 million baht. When Kenway didn’t get paid, he allegedly ratted out his cohort to police and tried to have him arrested.
The man fled to Cambodia where he reportedly set up a similar call center operation which later failed and he blamed Kenway.
The Sun reported that Kenway’s wife, nicknamed “Paris”, was oblivious to all her husband’s nefarious businesses, even though he supposedly owned five properties and several expensive imported sports cars.
Police believe Turner also has business ties to Kenway, although Caldeira was the alleged gunman. Friends and family members who know the South African expressed disbelief on his Facebook page, with several telling South African media they believe he simply fell in with the wrong crowd after he had a falling out with family and slipped quietly out of his home country last year to take up residence in Cambodia.
The Herald newspaper in South Africa said Caldeira’s mother also was living in Cambodia, but now has fled, possibly to her native Portugal, after receiving anonymous death threats from “foreign sounding people”. The paper said the Caldeira’s family in South Africa also have received threats.
Thai police quickly identified the suspects by tracing the motorbike they rented using their original passports.