Family of Australian who died in a Thai jail cell face the grim task of bringing their loved one’s body home
- Matthew Winder, 31, was arrested in Phuket on Monday
- Found dead in his prison cell six hours later
- Death ruled suicide, his family denounced the ruling
- Family is working to get his body back to Australia
The family of an Australian man who was found dead in a Thai police cell now faces the difficult task of bringing his body back home.
Matthew Winder, 31, from Newcastle, was visiting the holiday island of Phuket on a five-day solo trip to expand his string of facial tattoos when he died around noon on Monday morning.
Police were called to the busy Kathu district, where Mr Winder was found to be “drunk or under the influence of drugs” around 5 am Monday.
He was arrested for being “drunk and disorderly” and allegedly yelling at hotel guests.
The piercer was left unattended at 11:30 a.m. while a guard went to get lunch, and when he returned to the cell on the second floor, he made the grim discovery.
The family is now working to get his body back to Australia, while one of his close friends has a GoFundMe page to help cover the costs.
As the investigation into the death of Australian Matthew Winder, who lost his life in a prison cell in Thailand, continues, his family now faces the grim task of bringing his body home (Mr. Winder pictured with his partner Ayla Varoxis)
The 31-year-old from Newcastle was visiting the holiday island of Phuket on a five-day solo trip to complete his string of facial tattoos when he died of a suspected suicide
The fundraiser has already reached the $15,000 goal to help with his repatriation and “the proper burial he deserves.”
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is providing “consular assistance” to Mr Winder’s family and extends its condolences to his loved ones.
His loving partner Ayla Varoxis and her 10-month-old daughter are eagerly awaiting his return and she told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday that ‘he told me he had had too much to drink and just wanted to be home’.
Thai authorities declared his death a suicide, but Ms Varoxis insisted he did not commit suicide and was determined to go home on Tuesday.
“I think he shouldn’t have been left alone in the condition he was in,” she said.
“I don’t believe Matty was suicidal. I spoke to him five hours before the incident. 30 minutes before he was arrested.
‘Yes, he was drunk. But he just wanted to go home. He wasn’t suicidal.’
His friends echoed the same sentiment, claiming there was probably much more to it.
“Suicide my a***,” a friend wrote on Facebook on Wednesday.
“What a joke their police are. As if he killed himself quickly in the half hour, the guard has a break. Liars.’
Another friend said, “Devastating news, I am devastated to hear this. And really believe that there is something wrong with the story.’
Thai police have confirmed that an autopsy will be conducted and an official investigation into Mr Winder’s death is underway.
Ms Varoxis and her 10-month-old daughter were eagerly awaiting his return and she told Daily Mail Australia on Wednesday that ‘he told me he was drinking too much and just wants to be home’
Photos and videos of Mr. Winder show him smoking cigarettes on the beach, drinking cocktails, smoking bongs and hanging out in clubs overlooking Phuket
On Sunday night, about 24 hours before he was arrested, Mr. Winder posted a video of Patong Beach on social media, captioning it: ‘Goodnight Thailand. I miss my Ayla Varoxis.’
Three days earlier, he assured his girlfriend that he couldn’t wait to fly back home to Newcastle, north of Sydney in NSW, to see her and their young daughter, McKenzie.
“Okay, you can come home now,” Ms Varoxis wrote on social media. “It’s too quiet without you and I miss my shadow way too much.”
Mr. Winder replied, “Only a few more days to go honey, I wish I was home right now xoxox love you dearly.”
Other photos and videos showed him smoking cigarettes on the beach, drinking cocktails, smoking bongs and hanging out in clubs overlooking Phuket.
Mrs. Varoxis commented, “Well deserved break. Love you and miss you.’
For confidential 24-hour support in Australia, call Lifeline on 13 11 14.