In an unexpected twist of justice, the wheels of the law turned to re-evaluate the consequences for a police officer’s disregard for the rules he swore to protect. Initially handed a relatively meagre sentence of just over a year behind bars, the court, in a dramatic Wednesday ruling, bumped up the punishment to a hefty stretch of 10 years and two months imprisonment. This came after a heartfelt plea by the grieving family of the departed, who argued convincingly that the initial penalty was a slap on the wrist unworthy of the gravity of the misdeed.
Imagine, if you will, the bustling streets of Bangkok, a city pulse that beats like no other. Here, amidst the flow of life, tragedy struck when Pol Lance Corporal Norawit Buadok, astride a roaring red Ducati, became the harbinger of doom for an unsuspecting ophthalmologist, Waralak Supawat-Jariyakul. On that fateful day of January 21, 2022, as she crossed the road by the Bhumirajanagarindra Kidney Institute Hospital, her life was abruptly and tragically cut short.
The impact was so violent, so sudden, that Waralak was hurled through the air, her very essence stolen away by injures beyond healing. The aftermath painted a picture of gross negligence, as it emerged that Norawit had thundered down Phya Thai Road at a blistering 108-128km/h, flagrantly flouting the 80km/h speed limit in place.
But the charges against Norawit were not limited to the reckless driving causing death. Oh no, the rap sheet read like a litany of vehicular sins – speeding, not even a hint of a license plate, and a neglect for the simple discipline of sticking to the left lane. Add to that a disregard for pedestrian crossings, a side mirror missing in action, road tax unpaid, insurance none-existent, and you see a picture of driving so careless it verged on the absurd.
The Appeals Court, with a tone of sharp rebuke, declared the initial ruling insufficient for a police officer, one who deviated so dramatically from what we rightly expect. And so, a once 1-year sentence became 10 years for the reckless driving causing death, with an additional two months tacked on for his sheer indifference to the safety of others.
In a saving grace for Norawit, his confession to these reckless acts means his new sentence will be sliced in half to five years. A token 4,000-baht fine remains as a reminder of his transgressions. Stepping outside the courtroom, the once enforcer of the law transformed into a bargaining defendant, offering 300,000 baht for his freedom until the Supreme Court decides his fate.
As the echo of the gavel fades, Norawit finds himself confined within the grim walls of the Bangkok Remand Prison, awaiting the next legal maneuver in the days ahead. All the while, a family mourns and a city contemplates the sobering reminder that those charged to protect us can sometimes falter, with consequences that ripple far beyond the confines of a courtroom.