William Douglas attends court July 7, 2008. Pic by John Le Fevre
William Douglas attends court July 7, 2008. Pic by John Le Fevre

WA man Bill Douglas, whose release from a Thai jail after only two years for murdering an American sparked an outcry, says he has psychiatric problems from the herbicide Agent Orange when he fought in Vietnam.

The 61-year-old, a long-term resident of Thailand, was talking to _The West Australian _before his scheduled deportation to Perth tomorrow.

"I am free," he shouted through two sets of steel bars separating inmates of Bangkok's immigration detention centre from visitors. "I have done my time. I am as free as you."

He expects to live in Willetton, which he left three decades ago, after his forced return to Australia.

Douglas said he intended to take an anger management course through the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Douglas was convicted in 2008 of murdering tourist Gary Poretsky, 46, in a restaurant and bar in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai during a drinking binge.

He testified that Mr Poretsky angered him by suggesting Australian and Thai troops sent to the Vietnam War were tools of America.

His victim's mother, Sandra Fall, complained bitterly about his short sentence even before Douglas was given more reductions for parole and a general amnesty.

Mrs Fall said she still shed tears every day over her son's death.

But Douglas, who has said he was allowed to carry a pistol because he worked undercover as a drug informant for Thai police, was still unwilling yesterday to express remorse.

"No comment," he said when asked about his feelings.

During his trial, Douglas told reporters he had no regrets about shooting Mr Poretsky. He said yesterday the killing was a crime of passion.

Douglas confirmed he has been on psychiatric medication for many years. He said he was "all right" for about 10 years after Vietnam but developed mental problems and began to drink excessively.

"I think myself it was Agent Orange, but the Department of Veterans Affairs said it was post-traumatic stress disorder," he said.

Many Australian Vietnam veterans claim physical and/or psychiatric problems from Agent Orange sprayed from US planes to destroy forests and stop the enemy hiding.

Douglas denied admitting he killed two Thai men while on police operations, as was alleged in court.

He said he would have support in Perth from his "whole family", mainly "two older sisters and some nieces".

Several Australians have said they feared for their lives if Douglas was allowed to live in Thailand again.

The West Australian

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