Two arrest warrants have been issued on Thursday over the execution-style killing of a British businessman near Pattaya on Tuesday. It is suspected that the cold-blooded gangland murder is related to the victim’s involvement with “boiler room” gangs in Pattaya.
Mr Tony Kenway, 39, owner of a “web design company” in Pattaya, a fleet of luxury cars and a mansion in the Jomtien area, was gunned down in broad daylight behind the driving wheel of his Porsche Cayenne GTS in the parking lot of the Sanit Sports Club in Tambon Pong near Pattaya Tuesday morning.
The father of two children with his Thai wife was killed with a single gunshot to his head.
Thai PBS reported on Tuesday:
[Witnesses] said the suspected gunman was loitering at a pavilion before the sports club and when the victim came out to walk toward his car, he followed him to the car. After the victim was seated behind the wheel of his car, the suspect opened the car door and fired one shot at him, killing him on the spot and escaped in a waiting motorcycle.
The assassination was also caught on CCTV at the sports club although it was not immediately clear whether the killer was a Thai or a foreign national.
Mr Kenway’s 32-year-old Thai wife reportedly told police that her husband had a business conflict with a former shareholder. Online rumours that the Briton was involved in illegal business activities and had links to foreign “boiler room” gangs in Pattaya also soon emerged.
Today the Pattaya court eventually issued two arrest warrants for a British and a South African national accused of killing Kenway over a not yet further specified business conflict.
The two men have been identified as 27-year-old Miles Dicken Turner, a British passport holder, and 23-year-old Abel Caldeira Bonito, who holds a South African passport. According to police, Bonito was the gunman while Turner served as the driver of a getaway motorcycle.
Immigration records reportedly show that the suspects fled to Cambodia via an immigration checkpoint in Trat at 3 p.m. on Tuesday, just hours after the assassination. They had entered Thailand through the same checkpoint only a week ago.
Pattaya One have a few more background details on the high-profile murder case today and report that
Kenway had interests in a football gambling website which led him to a conflict with another group of foreigners. Kenway had met the group twice to try to settle their differences but to no avail. This might be the motive for the killing, [a source close to the investigation] said.
Kenway was known to police and immigration officials as in 2015 he had been arrested and charged with working without a valid work permit and employing aliens. He was on bail and awaiting trial for these offenses.
Additionally journalists have now discovered that Kenway had an interest in a ‘call-center operation,’ otherwise known as ‘boiler rooms,’ that were established to encourage foreigners to invest money locally in business and property.
It is a matter of record that these phony investment schemes led to the losses of millions of baht for victims and in September 2016 Kenway was arrested and charged with fraud.
He denied all charges and, despite officials encouraging him to leave the country, he insisted he was innocent and wanted to stay and face trial later in the year. Kenway was on police bail at the time of his murder.
Although the police have not yet confirmed any immediate motive for the gangland murder it seems obvious that Kenway was killed over a lingering business conflict related to his “boiler room” activities.
According to an unnamed police source quoted by the Bangkok Post,
Kenway had a conflict with a former partner in [his Pattaya-based] call centre who owed him 8 million baht. Kenway had kept asking for payment. When the man failed to settle the debt, Kenway had asked police to arrest him.
His former business partner then moved to Cambodia where he opened a similar call centre operation. However, it did not do well, the source said.
It was believed the two suspects were jointly involved in the Cambodian operation.
The police source added that Kenway was also facing not further specified charges in the UK. The possibility that the gangland-style killing may have resulted from a lingering conflict with a rival football gambling website firm has not been ruled out yet either.
UPDATE (February 10) – The British “mastermind” behind Tony Kenway’s assassination – a former friend and business associate of the victim – has reportedly been arrested in Cambodia and is currently being transferred to Thailand.
The approx. 45-year-old UK national has been identified as a Mr. Toby James (name transliterated from Thai). Local media report that Mr. Toby had allegedly ordered the killing of Kenway over an 8-million- Baht debt the victim owed Mr. Toby (which is in contrast to earlier reports.)
Meanwhile,the alleged gunman and his British accomplice are still on the run and thought to be hiding out in Cambodia.
UPDATE (February 11) – The suspected mastermind behind the gangland killing has now been identified as Mr. Toby James Nelham, a 44-year-old Briton.
It seems also confirmed that Mr. Toby was recently arrested in Cambodia’s Koh Kong province not far from the Thai border. However, there appear to be problems with his extradition which has been postponed repeatedly.
There have also been reports suggesting that Kenway’s Thai wife was told by local police that the extradition to Thailand was being “blocked by the British authorities.” This has not been officially confirmed though.