The parents of a Midsomer Norton student are counting the hours until their daughter and her boyfriend return safely from what should have been a dream holiday in Thailand but which turned into a nightmare.
Jack Cole, originally from Peasedown St John, is in hospital in Bangkok with multiple stab wounds after defending his girlfriend, former Norton Hill School pupil April Clifton, 21, from what he says was a pack sex attack in an idyllic beach resort area.
April’s mother Linda said that at the moment the family were focused on April and Jack and they could not think of anything else.
Mrs Clifton said: “We are focused on getting them home and are just counting the hours until they are safely back in this country. We cannot think of any more than that.”
Mr Cole, 21, said a group of Thai youths on motorcycles had lay in wait for him and Miss Clifton before attacking her as the couple walked to a boat pier in Ao Nang, in southern Thailand.
He said: “It was a calculated attack. They drove past us several times checking us out. We thought they had gone but they came out of the shadows and attacked April.
“They laughed as they grabbed April as a mob. There were seven of them. Four men and three girls.
“I knocked the guy down who had grabbed April and then they crowded around me and I thought they were punching me.
“But it seems every punch was a stab. They were shouting in English ‘Come on. Come on’. I saw that April had managed to run away to the safety of a dive shop and I fell to the ground as the group ran away laughing.
“I managed to stagger up to a foreigner whom I begged for help and people came to staunch the flow of blood.
“There was no reason for the attack. We had never seen these people before. They appeared to be driving in a gang looking for foreign victims. They made no attempt to take my wallet. They were just interested in April.”
The unnamed Briton who runs the dive shop has posted a warning message on an ex-pat forum in Thailand.
He said: “In Ao Nang, I fear that another tourist death is imminent. Gangs of teenage kids armed with knives and machetes roam the roads like something out of a Hollywood horror movie.
“ I accompanied them to the Krabi hospital where I witnessed the same old story. You pay or no treatment.
“The resort where they were staying kindly brought his and her passports, money and the lifesaving insurance”.
Three of the seven suspects were being held by Krabi provincial police. Another four are being sought from the Nong Talay area of Krabi.
Mr Cole, who has been treated for stab wounds to his face, arms, chest and legs, works for Office Angels in Bristol as a recruitment officer. April has finished her studies and planned to seek work after returning from their dream holiday.
Both had been staying at the luxury Centara Grand Beach Resort Hotel and were walking to the Nopprarat Thara pier to catch a speedboat to their resort in neighbouring Plai Plong Bay.
April’s father has flown out to be with his daughter, who Jack said is scared to go out alone. The British Embassy has confirmed it is providing full Consular assistance through its office in Phuket.
Ao Nang has been the scene of several attacks on tourists this year. Three months ago a 19-year-old Dutch model was raped there. Police arrested her alleged attacker, but he was given bail immediately.
The girls’ father subsequently posted a music video entitled Evil Man of Krabi on the internet, attacking the Thai justice system.