A Blackpool businessman who spent more than 17 years in jail in Thailand, including two years chained up on death row, last night attacked the Foreign Office for its failure to help him and other British prisoners abroad.
John Davies, who has just arrived back in England after being freed from a life sentence in Bangkok, said he had always protested his innocence but had received little help from the British authorities.
Davies, who had a labour contracting and helicopter servicing business in Thailand, was arrested in 1990 and accused of heroin dealing. He claimed he had been framed. He was sentenced to death.
"Once you're on death row, the chains are welded to your ankle and they can only take them off with a wheel cutter after they've shot you or your sentence is reduced," he said yesterday. "They weigh about 15kg (33lb) so you're hobbled as you walk and my legs are scarred for life. Many of the others sentenced with me died before the sentence was carried out because they became so ill.
"The normal execution was with three bursts of nine bullets from a machine-gun and you would hear it being carried out," said Mr Davies, who has a son, daughter and ex-wife in Britain. "One minute the person would be in the cell with you and the next they would be gone, although they have changed now to lethal injections."
Arriving in Thailand in 1972, he was married to a Thai woman who died while he was inside. "On some occasions there were 24 of us in a cell of 26 sq metres and on a couple of occasions the guy beside me died," he said. "The conditions could be so dirty that I had a small cut on my foot which got infected with tap water and swelled up to twice the size so they thought they might have to amputate."
He suffered a stroke in 1999 and a Thai doctor, in jail for organising the death of his wife, treated him.
He spent time in three jails, including Bang Kwang, the notorious "Bangkok Hilton". Although he said he had been the victim of corruption by people seeking rewards for convictions, he added: "I like Thailand and I like the Thais." He said that he and other British prisoners received much worse treatment than other Europeans because the embassy and Foreign Office had done little to help them. "I felt totally let down by the embassy," he said. He claimed that inaccurate information about him had been supplied to the Thais and this had affected his case.
Mr Davies, who has a previous conviction in the UK in the 1960s for obtaining money by deception, has written an account of his time inside which he hopes will be published. His return home was welcomed by Fair Trials Abroad which campaigned for his release.
Catherine Wolthuizen of FTA said: "John's case was riddled with inconsistencies and flaws. His conviction is currently under review in Thailand, and we are hopeful it will be overturned."