Two foreign tourists have found themselves in what could potentially be serious trouble with the Thai law, after they were caught on video spray-painting graffiti on an historic wall in Chiang Mai.
Briton Furlong Lee and Canadian Brittney Schneider have been charged with vandalism and, police say, face up to 10 years in prison, a fine of up to THB 1 million (USD 30,645) or both if they are found guilty.
CCTV video footage showed the pair of 23-year-olds spray-painting the red brick wall near Tha Phae Gate, one of the city’s most famous landmarks and which dates back to when the area was the capital of the Lanna Kingdom from the 13th to 18th Centuries.
Tha Phae Gate is today an epicentre of tourism in Chiang Mai and is surrounded by restaurants, cafes, bars, shops and an extensive choice of accommodation ranging from luxury resorts to boutique hotels to guesthouses and backpacker-style dorms.
Lee and Schneider were arrested at a guesthouse on Thursday and were being held at the provincial court, police said. An officer told Reuters the young man (Lee) and woman (Schneider) had admitted to the crime and did not yet have a lawyer.
In photographs taken of the graffiti, the words ‘Scouser Lee B’ can be seen painted on the wall, in an apparent reference to the English city of Liverpool.