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Belfast gay couple robbed and raped on holiday in Thailand

Belfast gay couple robbed and raped on holiday in Thailand

Bangla Road, Phuket, Thailand

A gay couple from Northern Ireland have spoken of the robbery and sexual attack they endured during a holiday to Thailand over the holiday season.

Husbands Gerald Drumgoole and husband Michael Burnett, both 33, told Belfast Telegraph that they had been to Thailand half a dozen times in the past, but that they would not be returning after their most recent trip to Phuket.

‘It was December 30 and we’d only gone out for a few drinks because New Year’s Eve was the following day and we wanted to go to the beach and light lanterns at midnight,’ said Drumgoole.

‘We never wanted to have a crazy night and then this happened.

They headed out to the tourist bars on Bangla Road.

‘We had two beers in one bar and then we moved on to another bar. Neither of us remember meeting anyone or anything strange happening at all.

‘Whatever drugs were used to spike our drinks have totally wiped our memories. I woke up and felt disgusting and I was in quite a lot of pain.’

Drumgoole says he was raped and his partner was badly beaten.

‘My husband is still in shock’

‘I woke up in my hotel room with no underwear on and my belt was missing, with initially no clue what had happened. My husband was there too, but he didn’t remember anything either.

‘Whatever they had put in his drink, it didn’t even come into his head that I wasn’t there or that something was happening to me.

‘He doesn’t remember anything at all.

‘My husband is still in shock and he feels so helpless because he wasn’t there to help me when I was being raped.’

They said their attackers also took €450 ($477) from them, along with both their iPhones. The returned to Belfast last Wednesday.

Drumgoole says he want to his own GP who confirmed to him that he had been raped.

‘It has just been a very traumatic time for both of us. We have had to be tested for HIV and given an HPV vaccine and tested for syphilis,’ he told Belfast Live.

‘Michael and I have to go to the GUM (Genitourinary Medicine) clinic for further tests – it has been a complete nightmare.’

‘Thailand is such a beautiful country and we both love it, but this has just been awful’

They said what made the experience even more difficult was a lack of support from their travel insurance company.

‘We were told that we had to contact the insurance company before deciding on which hospital to go to in Phuket,’ he told Belfast Live.

‘We phoned OUL Direct for five days and all they kept telling us was that they would send an email on and get someone to call us.

‘On the fifth day my family back in Belfast got in touch with the British Embassy in Bangkok and we finally got sent to a hospital, but the hospital wouldn’t accept our insurance documents.

‘We then got sent to a private hospital, which insurance companies don’t usually do, but because of our case they got us into this facility. The insurance company also said they would cover all charges, because they knew we had no money after being robbed.

‘It was agreed that our excess fee would be paid, but after we received the treatment we were told we had to pay it.

‘The insurance company have said they will listen back to the recorded telephone conversations we had with them, but I won’t be holding my breath,’ said Drumgoole.

GSN has approached OUL Direct for comment and is awaiting a reply. A spokesperson told Belfast Live: ‘We take all complaints very seriously and are sorry that this situation has occurred.

OUL Direct do not deal with emergency assistance cases directly and therefore we are not aware of the details of this case at this time.

‘The company who operates the emergency assistance service on behalf of the underwriter on this policy is Travel Assistance Facilities.

‘We will also investigate this situation as a matter of urgency.

Drumgoole said the couple reported the attack to Thai police, but says they didn’t take it seriously.

‘The police in Phuket just laughed when we reported our attack. It seems that kind of thing happens regularly.’

‘We’ve done a lot of travelling together and have never not felt safe. Thailand is such a beautiful country and we both love it, but this has just been awful. It’s a really horrible time for us.’

The UK Foreign Office has previously issued guidance on personal safety for travellers to Thailand.

‘Violent sexual assaults and unprovoked attacks have been reported in popular tourist destinations, including in the Koh Samui archipelago and Krabi province,’ says the guidance.

‘Drink spiking has been reported in tourist destinations around Thailand. Be careful about taking drinks from strangers and at clubs and parties, or leaving your drinks unattended, particularly in Koh Samui, Pattaya and at the Full Moon party on Koh Phangan, where date rapes have been reported.

GSN has reached out to Mr Drumgoole for further comment.

Update 18 January 2017: A Foreign Office spokesperson told GSN: ‘Staff in our embassy in Bangkok provided assistance to two British nationals in early January 2017. We remain in contact with both of them and with the local Thai authorities.’