Life sentence for WA family
Geoff Smith hopes to get his life back together. Picture: Dione Davidson, The West Australian

The husband of the Perth travel agent fatally stabbed in a bungled bag-snatch says his family were given a "life sentence" but were overwhelmed by the public support they received.

When asked how much he missed his wife Michelle, Geoff Smith said: "Terribly. It's unmeasurable."

Two Thai men escaped the death penalty yesterday but were sentenced to life behind bars for the murder and robbery of the 60-year-old in Phuket on June 20.

One judge said the attack was premeditated when Surasak Suwannachot, 26, stabbed Mrs Smith twice in the chest when she refused to let go of her bag before he fled on a motorcycle with his accomplice Surin Tadtong, 37.

The men showed no emotion as a judge in Phuket Central Court told them he would have ordered their execution if they had not admitted their roles in the murder of Mrs Smith on June 20.

Speaking at his Butler home, Mr Smith said he had not wanted to attend the trial or think about his wife's killers. But he had been confident Thai authorities would deal with the two men appropriately.

"They obviously regret what they've done now but you can't turn the clock back," he said. "We have inherited a life sentence."

He planned to return to Thailand eventually and hoped other tourists would continue to go there because that was what his wife would have wanted.

"Had she survived she would have gone back herself, she was that sort of person," he said. "The Thai people are lovely people."

Mr Smith said he had barely had time to grieve for his wife of 35 years, whom he described as the life and soul of the party with a way of putting people at ease.

"The family has had a tough and emotional time over the past few weeks, however, there are so many people who have given so much support," he said. "On behalf of Chanelle, Cameron, myself and Michelle's family, I would like to thank all the people who have sent cards, flowers and other messages of sympathy.

"There are so many that I couldn't reply to them individually, Michelle was such a well-known person."

Mr Smith drove his wife to the airport for that fateful trip and said she made a point of calling her children during the drive.

Just days later he answered a 4am knock on the door from police who gave him the horrific news.

Mrs Smith was knifed just 100m from her five-star beachfront hotel in Kata Noi Bay, on Phuket's west coast, where she had been on a familiarisation trip to help promote Thai tourism.

Her travel companion, Tammee Lynn, 42, was slashed on the arm and desperately tried to stem the bleeding to save Mrs Smith.

Mr Smith said he gained some comfort that Ms Lynn, who had known his wife for years, had been there during her final moments.

"Tammee did everything she could," he said, choking back tears.

He said he was told his wife had been the "life and soul of the group" in Thailand and he had framed a photo of her smiling and holding aloft a cocktail in Phuket shortly before her death.

"We as a family are doing our best to cope with this tragedy and are trying to move on with the journey ahead," he said. "Friends and everyone will miss her. She was so important to so many people."

Under Thai law, life in jail is set at 100 years but well-behaved criminals can have years taken off their sentences through an annual royal amnesty.


The West Australian

Popular videos

Compare & Save

Our Picks

Compare & Save

Follow Us

More from The West