A Canadian tourist arrested along with a British man for spray-painting on an ancient wall in northern Thailand has apologised, saying she was “ridiculously drunk.”
Brittney Schneider, 22, and Lee Furlong, 23, from Liverpool, were detained on Friday in Chiang Mai after they were allegedly spotted on CCTV footage defacing the Tha Phae Gate, part of a wall that forms a square around the inner city and dates back to the 13th century.
The video, at 4am last Thursday, appears to show a man spraying “Scouser Lee” on the gate. The woman adds the letter B beneath his scrawl before everyone leaves the scene.
Police major Anon Cherdchutrakulthong said Mr Furlong and Ms Schneider had “admitted the crime” and added: “When people visit somewhere they should know not to leave graffiti.”
The pair have been charged with vandalising registered ancient artefacts and now face ten years in jail and/or a fine of one million Thai baht, which is close to £24,000.
In an email interview with Canada’s CTV news on Tuesday, Ms Schneider said she was terrified about the consequences of her actions and “beyond sorry” for what she did.
She explained that she and others had been out drinking before they came across a bottle of spray paint on the way back to their hostel.
"I came to as I finished writing the B and I stopped because I knew it was bad," she said. "But it was already too late."
When she woke up the next day she was filled with fear and remorse.
"The next morning we woke up and were sitting beside the pool and I just remembered what we did and looked over to one of the guys from the night before and said, ‘OMG, we spray-painted a wall last night. I’m so scared we’re going to get in trouble,"’ Ms Schneider wrote.
She said she had gone to her room to make a phone call when a hostel employee knocked on her door and said there was an issue downstairs.
"My heart dropped. I knew," said Schneider. "I walked downstairs, opened the door and there were like seven police officers standing there.
"They showed me a video and asked if it was me in the video spray-painting the wall. I said, ‘Yes, it was me."’
Both Ms Schneider and Mr Furlong were arrested and taken to the Northern gate, one of five historical gates in the city, for a re-enactment before being detained at the police station.
Her mother and aunt have now flown to Thailand and posted bail £3,500 ahead of her trial.
"I’m terrified for my life. I’m so sorry for what I did, beyond sorry," she said. "I’m just so overwhelmed and just want to go home."
Mr Furlong, who had been working as a gardener in Kent and was on his first solo trip abroad, last week also claimed that he had been “drinking all day” after receiving bad news from his family.
"I saw the spray can and just picked it up. Honestly, I didn’t know what I was doing. When I woke up the police were here.
"They took me to the station and I was in shock. I’m terrified of what will happen now,” he said by phone from his hotel.
Speaking to the Telegraph on Friday, his mother Michelle Furlong, 46, said she was “devastated” by her son’s behaviour and that the family was forced to borrow money for his £3,500 bail.
She said: “I am devastated it’s happened in a historic place. If I could go over to Thailand and clean it off myself then I would.
“I would also apologise to everyone he’s offended. That’s not how he was brought up but he’s done a stupid thing.
“We aren’t in a good financial position to deal with it all to be honest. It’s the last thing we wanted.”
Mrs Furlong said that her son suffers from a genetic condition called tuberous sclerosis which causes epilepsy, mood swings and benign tumours on his brain, adding: “Having this condition changes your personality. Unfortunately, hearing about his dying gran caused him to go out and get drunk and spray-paint the wall.”
Mr Furlong said that police had taken away his passport ahead of a court hearing in two weeks, adding: "I’ve spoken to my family and I’m trying to get some help. I really need it. I honestly don’t know what to do.”