Thailand jet-ski accident: Tom Keating pleads guilty, handed suspended sentence in girlfriend's death

By @shauryaarya1 on
Kata Beach
Phuket Island's (L-R) Kata, Karon and Patong Beaches are seen from an viewpoint from Kata Noi Bay on March 21, 2005. Reuters/Adrees Latif AL

A Victorian man whose jet ski collided with her girlfriend’s in Thailand has pleaded guilty to a charge of recklessly causing death. The incident caused the death of his girlfriend, Emily Collie.

Tom Keating pleaded guilty after he arrived at Karon Provincial police station on Wednesday, supported by his family and Emily’s parents. The accident had occurred in waters off Phuket’s Kata Beach. Twenty-year-old Emily’s parents, Ian and Sally Collie, said they did not blame Keating for their daughter’s death.

Colonel Sanya Thongsawad, Karon police chief, said Keating’s passport had been withheld by the police. The charge he pleaded to comes in what everyone believes is a tragic accident.

A statement was released by Collie’s parents through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT).  “We are in the midst of grieving through the sudden loss of our precious daughter Emily. This was a tragic accident,” the statement said. “We do not believe anybody was at fault. In particular, we do not place any blame on Tom.”

On the day of the incident in question, Keating and Collie were splashing each other as they were “having fun.” It was then that their jet skis collided with one another. Collie sustained serious neck and shoulder injuries.

The ABC learned by the police in Phuket that Keating pleaded to the charge but will be imposed with a suspended jail sentence. He would be able to return home.

Keating’s sister, Bree Lyon, paid tribute to Emily in a Facebook post. “Our dearest Emily. My dearest angel, one you have always been and will always remain. I love you,” she wrote. “From the very moment I met you I loved you, I cherished your genuine heart, and that beautiful smile. I was inspired by you in so many ways my darling girl, you were so strong and so determined.”

The families of Keating and Emily are being offered consular assistance by DFAT, according to a spokesman. “DFAT understands that Thai authorities will take into account the wishes of the Collie family in deciding whether charges would be laid, and a prosecution mounted,” the spokesman said. “The Australian Government is unable to interfere with the sovereign legal processes of other states.”

In a message on Facebook, Keating said he was “broken” after the incident. "I love you so much Emily, and I wish I could just bring you back into my arms," he wrote.

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