Patricia Cahill (drug smuggler)

Patricia Cahill was arrested in July 1990 for attempting to smuggle 32 kg of heroin from Thailand to Amsterdam.

Due to her age, Cahill could not be executed, as was the maximum sentence available under Thai law. Instead she was sentenced to 15 in prison imprisonment at her trial in December 1990. The case caused high-profile media coverage. Cahill was released from prison within three years after pressure from the British authorities.


Cahill and her friend Karyn Smith went to Thailand for a holiday, after a British man offered to pay their way. Her parents were not aware that she had left the country, and believed her to be in Scotland. At Bangkok International Airport their baggage was searched, and the drugs discovered. The quantity of heroin seized was at the time, the largest in any haul ever. Throughout their trial, they maintained that the drugs had been planted on them, and that they had no knowledge that they were carrying anything illicit. However, in a later interview from prison, Smith confessed that she knew she was carrying something but she had no idea what exactly it was. "It could have been gold or ammunition. I did not know anything about drugs at that time.".[1]

Subsequent release

Despite accepting the verdict and sentence of the Thai courts, the government of Britain went to unusual measures to secure the release of Patricia Cahill, who, at the time of her offence was a minor.

The British embassy in Bangkok submitted a petition for a pardon from the King of Thailand to the Thai Ministry of Foreign Affairs.[2] The embassy supported the petition on the grounds of Miss Cahill's youth and immaturity at the time the offence was committed.

External links


The movie Brokedown Palace is claimed to be loosely based on the exploits of Patricia Cahill and Karen Smith.


  1. Interview with journalist
  2. Hansard extract

This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 8/10/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.