THE struggle is finally over for a man trapped in Thailand for four years.
Lee Chestnutt has been caught in a legal battle with his former Thai landlord, who accused him and his partner of damage to a property and stealing furniture, since 2009.
The 41-year-old, from Pilling, stood trial two years ago, at the end of which he was acquitted of the charges. But the landlord lodged an appeal, and Mr Chestnutt and his family faced an agonising wait for a second hearing, which only took place in December.
Just weeks before Christmas, his long-suffering family celebrated news the appeal court had found in Mr Chestnutt’s favour, and were preparing for his return home in January.
But their elation was short lived when the landlord threatened a second appeal, this time to the supreme court, which blocked Mr Chestnutt’s visa bid and could have kept him locked in the country for a further 10 years.
Today, his parents, Pat and Bruce, who live near Garstang, are celebrating once more after hearing the landlord’s appeal was not lodged in time, and legal papers have been sent to their son detailing his freedom.
Mrs Chestnutt said: “We’ve been on a roller-coaster, and we’re right at the top at the moment.
“Lee received a letter from the court on Tuesday to say they have been cleared. He will take that to the immigration office on Friday to get his ban on leaving the country lifted.”
Mrs Chestnutt, 64, said she believed pressure from The Gazette and other media in England and overseas may have had a factor in the landlord dropping his appeal, who had to submit his appeal by February 4.
Mrs Chestnutt said: “Lee’s prosecutors said no appeal had been put forward, so he was free. We’re hoping to have him home in the next four weeks.”