Syrian commando gets fewer than 10 years prison time for murder of world croquet boss

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A former Syrian commando has been sentenced to nine years and five months in prison for robbing and killing the New Zealand president of the World Croquet Federation in his Jomtien Beach apartment last year.

Mohamad Shanar Ryad, 22, showed no emotion as Judge Aathit Phanajan announced March 14 a sentence of 18 years and 10 months, then cut the term in half because Ryad confessed. The Pattaya Criminal Court sentence allocated only seven years for the murder, with the remaining two years and five months added for burglary, illegally entering the kingdom, and possession of a knife. He was also fined 200 baht.

Police bring Mohamad Shanar Ryad into the Jomtien Complex to reenact the murder.Police bring Mohamad Shanar Ryad into the Jomtien Complex to reenact the murder.

The former Syrian commando, who entered Thailand on a United Nations refugee visa, was arrested Aug. 27 by Pattaya and Chonburi police four days after he murdered 56-year-old Charles E. Jones during a violent argument at the Kiwi’s Jomtien Complex condo. Ryan admitted to stabbing Jones 27 times with a pocket knife and slitting his throat before stealing about 40,000 baht in cash, electronics and jewelry.

The high-profile murder played out atop New Zealand newspapers and television broadcasts for weeks, 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 Ryad after dinner.

Ryad 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, Ryad claims, Jones tried to rape him. The commando pulled a knife in self-defense, he claimed.

When Ryad 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.

Skeptical friends likened the handsome Syrian 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.