Moment that led to Aussie’s Thai bar death
AN Australian man was killed after a drunken bar fight in a Thai red-light district when his attacker tried to stop him teasing a female barmaid.
Thai police have charged an American with manslaughter after the death of Melbourne man Benjamin Robb, 43.
Local media reports have named Jose Manuel Polanco Jr, 43, as Mr Robb's attacker. He will appear in court within the next week.
Mr Polanco initially fled but then surrendered to authorities hours after the fight on Friday night at the Ruby Club in notorious Pattaya, south of Bangkok.
Mr Polanco has denied the charges and said he was acting in self defence during the fight, according to local media reports. He's expected to remain in custody while a re-enactment of the incident is carried out.
The Bangkok Post reports the fight began after Mr Polanco intervened on behalf of a Thai woman. Mr Robb was punched in the face and sent to Pattaya Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead later of brain injury.
Pattaya police captain Sombat Kaewpoonmuk told News Corp the fight erupted when Polanco became upset with how Mr Robb was treating bar staff.
"[Mr Robb] was teasing one of the servers by squeezing her neck, pulling her up so her feet left the ground," Captain Kaewpoonmuk said.
A Bangkok Post report said Mr Robb's actions caused the woman's face to "turn blue", The Post reported.
"Polanco saw the incident and told [him] to stop it. [He] didn't stop and started fighting [with Polanco] a number of times," Captain Kaewpoonmuk said.
A witness claimed on social media that Mr Robb was attacked by up to five men and his head repeatedly stomped on. But friends of Mr Robb have told news.com.au there was only one attacker and he was the victim of a "coward punch".
"Ben hit his head on the ground hard after the American guy punched him in the face," one said. "It was a coward punch. There is an investigation going on right now."
The friend said witness reports that Mr Robb had his head stomped on and was targeted in a pack attack weren't accurate and had upset the family.
"This is a good Aussie guy who has been killed," the friend said.
Both Mr Robb and his attacker had been drinking heavily in the bar for several hours before the violence began, witnesses claim.
The Ruby Club promotes itself as a venue that "knows how to heat things up and bring a flirty mood to your night out with there selection of fun girls all dedicated to putting a smile on your face. Come Join The Fun At Ruby Club!"
Its website boasts of having "five comfortable rooms close to the action" alongside pictures of scantily clad young women.
A statement from the Ruby Club management said: "An altercation lasting less than 20 seconds between two customers on Friday night resulted in one person being taken to hospital with serious looking injuries, which sadly resulted in him passing away in the early hours of Saturday morning. No other customer or staff member was injured during the incident.
The other individual involved handed himself in to police and it is understood he is to remain in custody until a court appearance in 10 days or so."
It continued: "Whilst our thoughts remain with the victims relatives, we would also like to thank the emergency services for their prompt and professional attention in dealing with the incident."
The Department of Foreign Affairs has confirmed the man's death.
"DFAT is providing consular assistance to the family," a spokesman said.