Lifestyle & Belief

Thailand: Australian woman killed with stab to the heart in Phuket bag snatch


Foreign tourists and locals walk by the sea at Patong beach on the southern island of Phuket, one of Thailand's worst-affected areas by the December 2004 tsunami, on December 25, 2009.



An Australian mother of two was killed in Thailand on Wednesday night after bag snatchers on motorcycle inflicted a fatal stab wound to her heart.

Michelle Smith, a travel agent from Perth, was walking on the streets of the resort city of Phuket with industry colleagues when a motorcycle with two male riders pulled up, according to Australia's Fairfax media.

Smith, 60, reportedly struggled to hold her bag as the back rider tried to snatch it, and received a 3-inch knife wound to the heart.

The group of travel agents was in Phuket to inspect a five-star hotel before recommending it to clients, Fairfax wrote. 

Smith's husband Geoff described his wife in an interview with Australia's ABC News:

"Bright, sparkly, hard working, a wonderful mother. Loved her job, been in travel for approximately 40 years," he said.

"[I'm] totally devastated. It's a shock. It's not as if she was traveling on her own. She was with a group of agents all together and just unfortunately plucked out of the crowd."

The Australian Associated Press cited Thai police as saying that they had access to CCTV footage of the incident and were confident of an early arrest.

A police source told AAP the footage showed the make of the bike and one digit of the bike's number plate.

Federation of Australian Travel Agents chief executive Jayson Westbury told AAP that bag snatching was not particularly common in Phuket, as locals were dependent on tourism.

"The people of Thailand generally are beautiful, loving, caring, religious people. They would be horrified with this," he reportedly said.

"I don't think that people should go into panic mode and start making dramatic [travel] plan changes as a result of the random nature of this act."

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