The nightmare is over at last for a Wyre family, whose son has faced almost four years of legal battles in Thailand.
Lee Chestnutt landed back in the UK at the weekend after finally being allowed out of the country.
The chemical engineer, who had made Thailand his home, was wrongly accused by his landlord of damaging furniture, resulting in a night in jail and years of fights through the courts. During that time he was not allowed a visa, so he could not work and could not leave the country, leaving him reliant on his family in the UK.
He was cleared of any wrong doing, but just as he prepared to come home, the landlord lodged an appeal, so it was back to the legal wrangles as his parents, Pat and Bruce Chestnutt, of The Mallards, Garstang, waited anxiously at home for news.
“I can’t believe I’m home at last,” said Pilling man Lee, who is staying with his partner, Jaffrey Maharan, at his parents’ home.
“Right up to catching the flight we kept waiting for something to happen.
“We had to come via Abu Dhabi and a red light flashed up as we were going through the airport, but it was simply something wrong with the boarding pass.”
His mum added: “We have waited four years for this moment. It has been a living nightmare.
“Words can’t describe how we feel to have him home. It’s amazing.
“We didn’t really believe it until we saw him coming through arrivals at Manchester Airport. We’re planning a big family party to welcome him back.”
Lee and Jaffrey were preparing to leave Thailand four years ago, and his parents had gone over to help sort out the house. Then the landlord made false accusations about damage and they were slung into jail.
“We had gone over to see Lee and we were there when he was arrested. He spent a night in prison with his dad and Jaffrey,” said Mrs Chestnutt.
Lee added: “We were locked up with 20 illegal immigrants from Cambodia, and if we had not managed to raise the bail money they would have sent us to the notorious jail known as the Bangkok Hilton.
“I’m angry because I have spent around 10% of my life just waiting around in no-man’s land.
“We weren’t in jail, but we weren’t free.
“We were not in control of our lives
“I couldn’t work because I wasn’t allowed a visa, and I couldn’t leave the country.
“Then we finally got our visas and could leave we were fined for overstaying in Thailand.
“We will be going back in a few weeks’ time to pick up our two dogs and to sort out our house,
Then we are going to see if there is any way we can prosecute the landlord who made the false accusations.
“There is nothing wrong with the Thai legal system, it is excellent, it is just the landlord we had the problems with.”
His mum added:”The furniture he was supposed to have damaged was his own, and we had the shipping documents to prove it.
“We hope there is something the lawyers will be able to do to.
“Lee has had to spend all this time stuck in Thailand and this has affected the whole family.”