Australia's honorary consul in Phuket says many of the criminals targeting tens of thousands of Australian tourists are never brought to justice and some have official protection.
Larry Cunningham said he hoped today's sentencing of two Thai men over the stabbing murder of Australian travel agent Michelle Smith seven weeks ago would send a warning to Phuket's tuk tuk taxi drivers and jet-ski operators who rip off tourists, sometimes using violence.
“The major problem has always been the application of the law in Phuket where assaults continue unabated virtually every night and there are little or no arrests of the guilty parties, mainly because they have patronage protection,” Mr Cunningam said.
Surasak “Boy” Suwannachote, 26, has pleaded guilty to stabbing Ms Smith to death during a robbery on Kata Noi beach on June 20.
Surin Tadthong, 37, has admitted being an accessory to murder. Surin stole a motor cycle used during the robbery.
Ms Smith's murder prompted intervention from Thai Prime Minister Yinguck Shinawatra and Thailand's top police officials, who ordered a crackdown on violence against tourists on Thailand's biggest resort island.
At any time there are an average 20,000 Australians holidaying on Phuket.
Mr Cunningham stressed that Phuket remained a safe and “wonderful place to holiday where Australians come and enjoy the Thai hospitality”.
But he said a tiny number of Australians were bad tourists and their behaviour was embarrassing.
“The current situation allows these people to be taken advantage of by operators of tuk tuks and jet skis,” he said.
Ms Smith, 60, from Perth, was stabbed as she walked back to her hotel after dinner.
After drinking at a bar selling strong home-made alcohol Surasak and Surin prowled the beach area looking for a robbery victim, Phuket Central Court heard.
Security camera footage showed Surasak stabbing Ms Smith after she refused to let go of her handbag.
Another travel agent, Tammee Lynn, 42, was stabbed and required stitches.
Mr Cunningham represented Ms Smith's family and friends during the three-day trial.
Surasak's guilty plea means he faces life imprisonment.
If he had pleaded not guilty and was found guilty he would have faced execution.