A COUPLE have flown halfway around the world to spend their first Christmas with their son in 18 years after he was freed following a nightmare legal battle
Lee Chestnutt, 41, has today described the moment a Thai court threw out an appeal against him for allegedly stealing property from a landlord in Bangkok.
He said: “I was really panicking at the time, but looking back it’s just a huge relief.
“We had to go into court after three other appeals had returned guilty verdicts. It was all heard in Thai so we didn’t know what was going on, and there was a court officer in there with handcuffs so I assumed it was a guilty verdict.
“For half an hour I didn’t know what was being said. Even when the solicitor gave me the thumbs up, I didn’t know what it meant until the interpreter said ‘not guilty’.
“The last three-and-a-half years have been a nightmare, but knowing it’s all over is just a massive relief.”
Mr Chestnutt, from Pilling, became locked in a dispute with a former landlord over alleged damage and furniture theft, meaning he was unable to work or leave the country for three and a half years.
Although he won a court case two years ago, the landlord appealed, sparking a long wait for an appeal hearing.
Mr Chestnutt, who left home 20 years ago to ultimately set up his own web development business, said the first thing he did was call his parents Pat and Bruce to tell them they would be having a happy Christmas.
Mr and Mrs Chestnutt, of The Mallards in Garstang, have now flown out to Thailand to spend Christmas with their son.
Mr Chestnutt is unable to leave the country just yet, but he is confident he will be home by the end of January.
He has to wait for a visa to be approved, allowing him to leave Thailand.
But that itself is not without drama, as it will cost him £800 in fines for overstaying a visa he never had.
He said: “I’ll be leaving Thailand as soon as possible.
“It has been a long time since I saw most of my family.
“Mum and Dad came over for the original trial two years ago, and while I was trying to deal with it as best I could, it was still very difficult.
“I wasn’t able to be happy with this constantly going through the back of my mind.
“It was hard being in a foreign country and not knowing what was going on, but I can finally relax now.”