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Alleged killer ‘frequented capital bar’

Toby James Nelhams hides his face as he is escorted by officials from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week.
Toby James Nelhams hides his face as he is escorted by officials from the Phnom Penh Municipal Court last week. Niem Chheng

Alleged killer ‘frequented capital bar’

Suspected murderer Toby James Nelhams was charged with fraud and immigration violations on Friday, while the former employee of one of his alleged accomplices claimed Nelhams lived in Phnom Penh in the months prior to the killing.

“The prosecutor charged him on five counts: entering and working in Cambodia without a passport, working without a work permit, using a fake document and fraud,” said Nelhams’ court appointed lawyer, Suon Virakpanha. None of the charges touch on his alleged involvement in a murder-for-hire in neighbouring Thailand.

Virakpanha added that Nelhams has been moved to pre-trial detention in Prey Sar prison.

Nelhams is suspected of ordering the January 24 murder of fellow Briton Tony Kenway following a business dispute in Pattaya, Thailand.

Kenway was allegedly shot dead by Abel Caldeira Bonita, with a third suspect, Miles Dicken Turner, driving the getaway motorbike. Bonita and Turner are still at large.

A chef at the recently closed Fisherman’s Cafe restaurant in Pattaya yesterday said that Nelhams had owned the establishment for about six years, but was rarely there in person.

“He only came to the restaurant twice in the last two years,” the man said yesterday, telling The Post he didn’t think Nelhams had ever actually lived in Pattaya.

The manager of a Phnom Penh bar that Caldeira once worked for said Nelhams and Tucker frequently came to the bar when Caldeira was working as a bartender.

“They sat right there all the time,” he said, gesturing to one section of the bar.

Caldeira’s former employer said the alleged hitman claimed he had just arrived in Phnom Penh when he began working at the bar “around six or seven months ago”. Facebook posts depict Caldeira in Cambodia as early as 2013, and seem to show that his mother lived in Phnom Penh.

“It’s strange to see he killed somebody. I’m shocked, I don’t believe it” he said about Caldeira, adding that Nelhams was also “such a nice guy”. Tucker, he said, never spoke.

The manager said Nelhams and Tucker came to the bar “a lot” during the five or six months Caldeira worked there. He said he last saw the trio around a month and a half ago.

Legal expert Sok Sam Oeun yesterday said Cambodian court may have jurisdiction to charge Nelhams with murder if he ordered the hit while in Phnom Penh.

Oeun added that Nelhams could be extradited to Thailand for the crime, although Cambodian officials have steadfastly refused to comment on the possibility of extradition.

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