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Chiang Mai man books taxi, kills driver, uses car to rob gold shop

ANN/THE STRAITS TIMES – A 26-year-old man has confessed to murdering a ride-hailing driver in Chiang Mai on July 8 and then using his car to rob a gold shop in town, Thai police said.

Suspect Nipitpon Somboonsukying had been planning the bizarre crime for the past nine months, said investigators at Bhubingrajanivej Police Station.

He was arrested on July 8 evening at his home in Doi Saket district, where police seized gold ornaments worth around THB3 million, a gun and clothes he allegedly wore when he committed the crime.

Police and rescuers also recovered the body of the ride-hailing driver, acting Lieutenant Suthep Chainanta, 48, discovered behind a roadside pavilion near Wang Bua Ban Waterfall on the slopes of Doi Suthep. The body was sent to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital for autopsy.

Police Region 5 chief Krittapol Yisakorn said the incident took place at 4am on July 8 after the suspect had parked his car at a Doi Suthep restaurant. He then walked two kilometres (km) along a nature trail and booked the victim’s taxi. When Suthep arrived, Nipitpon shot him dead and moved the body to the passenger seat to steal the car. He then dumped the corpse off a nearby cliff.

At around 11am, Nipitpon drove the taxi 8km to a shopping mall in Chiang Mai city, where he held up a gold shop and made off with 80 baht in weight of gold ornaments, Krittapol said.

Baht is a unit of weight measurement for gold in Thailand. One baht is equivalent to around 15 grammes of gold.

The suspect returned the stolen car to the spot where he had met the ride-hailing driver. He then walked along the nature trail back to his own car at the restaurant and drove back into Chiang Mai, where he attempted to sell the gold ornaments at five gold shops.

Police seized gold ornaments worth around THB3 million and a gun during the arrest of Nipitpon Somboonsukying. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES