Annice Smoel aka. “the beer mat lady” has pleaded guilty and got off with a small fine for stealing a beer mat from the Aussie Bar in Phuket.
Crikey had a good wrap of the story from the media’s perspective:
Are we so prejudiced nowadays that any Aussie who is arrested for a misdemeanour in Asia is front page news? The beat up about the Melbourne “beer mat mum”, Annice Smoel, suggests the Australian media will grab any chance it can to condemn the authorities — particularly the judiciary — of our Asian neighbours.
The Daily Telegraph’s headline on Tuesday summed up the tone with “Beer mat mum faces Thai jail hell.”
As we all now know, Smoel received a suspended sentence and a fine of just $40. She walked free from court and is reportedly on her way home this morning. The sentence was a mile away from the potential “five years in jail” mooted by the media over the last week.
I am sure the Australian Women’s Weekly magazine are writing the check now for her story. For the people that wanted her theft to be dealt with more harshly, you will just have to be satisfied that she will be called the “Phuket Beer Mat Lady” for the rest of her life.