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Thai arrest over Suffolk murder

PUBLISHED: 20:30 29 June 2006 | UPDATED: 11:06 22 October 2010

A 34-year-old man accused of killing his former partner in Suffolk has been arrested in Thailand. Christopher Caunter was caught by police almost a year after the body of Deborah Townsend was found in the back of a Land Rover at a country park on July 16 last year.

A 34-year-old man accused of killing his former partner in Suffolk has been arrested in Thailand.

Christopher Caunter was caught by police almost a year after the body of Deborah Townsend was found in the back of a Land Rover at a country park on July 16 last year.

Just a day before the gruesome discovery, Ms Townsend's hair, blood and scalp tissue were found on the A146 at Beccles, close to the roundabout at Morrisons supermarket. Her purse was later found nearby.

The 35-year-old mother of three from Bromley, Kent, had become a grandmother for the first time on the day she was murdered.

His arrest on Wednesday is believed to have come after months of discussion between authorities from Britain and Thailand, where Mr Caunter had been living since November.

Reports suggest he initially tried to escape police, who had tracked him to a bar in the beach resort of Cha Am, 90 miles south of Bangkok, before being detained.

Lieutenant Colonel Chakrit Iamchangpun of the Royal Thai Police told reporters in Bangkok: “We caught him at a petrol station around midnight after he realised that police waiting outside a bar wanted to arrest him.”

Mr Caunter has denied pushing Ms Townsend out of a moving car before backing over her, claiming she committed suicide.

Extradition proceedings are under way but are expected to take more than five months.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk Police said: “The 34-year-old British man, who is not being named by Suffolk Police, was arrested by Royal Thai Police. He is currently in custody in Bangkok.

“Extradition proceedings are now under way to secure the man's return to the UK,” she added.

Mr Caunter faces charges of assaulting police, robbery, money laundering and drug smuggling if he returns to the UK.

“I've problems back home, made big mistakes and I see the police, they hate me, they hate me,” Mr Caunter told Reuters Television at a police station in Bangkok, his Thai fiancée alongside him.

“And now they've exactly what they want and they're going to try me now for something I didn't do.”

The police hunt for Mr Caunter began as soon as Ms Townsend's body was found.

Tests showed she died as a result of severe head injuries and police said they believed she had been killed “during the hours of darkness” early on July 15.

t Three men from Essex have already been arrested and charged in relation to the murder and will appear at Ipswich Crown Court on October 24.


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