The true story of the only Westerner ever to break out of Thailand’s Bangkok Hilton. At www.Thai-Blogs.com this week, we will be bringing you an exclusive interview with the man who beat the odds by escaping from Klong Prem Prison. Two weeks before a near-certain death sentence, David McMillan escaped, never to be seen in Thailand again. He has just written a book about his adventure called “Escape” which is published by Monsoon Books. The Thai authorities are still searching for him. We managed to track him down to an Internet cafe in London’s touristy West End. Just around the corner from where Thaksin, another Thai fugitive, is hiding out. Both are confident that Thailand won’t be able to extradite them.
The escape by David took place on Sunday 18th August 1996. As a prelude to the interview, here is a news clipping printed four days after the escape. He was using the assumed name of Daniel Westlake at the time.
THAILAND: Thais hunt for Australian jail breaker.
Thursday 22nd August 1996
Thailand has launched a manhunt for an Australian who escaped from a high security prison in Bangkok while awaiting trial on drug possession charges, officials said on Thursday. Daniel Westlake, 46, from Victoria, made the first successful escape from Klongprem prison in the northern outskirts of the capital on Sunday night. He was believed by prison officials to still be in Thailand. “We have ordered a massive hunt for him and I am quite confident we will get him soon” Vivit Chatuparisut, deputy director general of the Correction Department, told Reuters. Westlake, arrested in December 1993 and charged with heroin trafficking, sawed the iron grill off his cell window and climbed down the prison’s five-metre (15-foot) wall on a rope made from bed sheets, Vivit said. The corrections department was probing the escape and had ordered all foreign inmates chained to prevent more breakouts. There are 266 Westerners, including six Australians, in the prison, most awaiting trial on drugs charges. There also are about 5,000 Thai inmates in Klongprem, a prison official said.
David walked out of Klong Prem Prison on Sunday evening. Less than 12 hours later he was sitting in a hotel in Singapore. At that time, prison authorities couldn’t admit to themselves what had just happened. They didn’t tell the press until Thursday. In our interview, we will be asking David about his escape and also what he thinks of some of the other prison accounts that have been published over the years.
We will be publishing the interview with David this week. Then, at the end of this month, we will be publishing an exclusive book review of “Escape” written by a person who is actually serving a 40 year sentence in the infamous Bang Kwang Maximum Security Prison. We will be asking him what he thinks of the book and whether the methods used back then could be used in prisons today.
Escape Map: Visit ThailandPhotoMap.com for a map of his escape route.