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Red Bull heir accused of killing policeman in hit-and-run has charges dropped

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Criminal charges have been dropped against the heir to the Red Bull energy drink dynasty who was accused of killing a police officer in a hit-and-run, police said.

Vorayuth “Boss” Yoovidhya had been charged with speeding, fleeing the scene of an accident and reckless driving causing death after the incident in central Bangkok in 2012.

On Friday, the England-educated heir received a letter informing him that Thailand‘s attorney general had “decided to acquit Mr Vorayuth Yoovidhya on all charges”.

An arrest warrant has also been withdrawn, said Thanawut Sanguansuk, deputy head of Thonglor police station.

Vorayuth, then 27, was accused of being behind the wheel of his Ferrari when it hit Wichian Klanprasert, an on-duty policeman on a motorbike in downtown Bangkok at 5am on 3 September, 2012.

He was accused of then dragging the police officer several dozen metres along the road and speeding away from his body.

Investigators followed an oil trail from the scene to the gated estate of one of Thailand’s richest families.

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Worayuth's father, Chalerm Yoovidhya (L) inherited the Red Bull business from his father
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Worayuth’s father, Chalerm Yoovidhya (L) is Thailand’s second-richest person

Dozens of police searched the mansion with a warrant and found a badly damaged black Ferrari with a wrecked front and its air bags deployed.

Vorayuth is the grandson of Chaleo Yoovidhya, who created an energy drink called Krating Daeng in the 70s before going into partnership with an Austrian man, Dietrich Mateschitz, and renaming the drink Red Bull.

When he died in 2012 he was the third-richest person in Thailand and his son, Vorayuth’s father Chalerm Yoovidhya, is now Thailand’s second-richest person with a fortune of £15.6bn, according to Forbes magazine.

Vorayuth’s chauffeur originally took the blame before his boss admitted he was driving the car and hit the motorbike, but said the bike suddenly cut him off.

He was released on 500,000 baht (£12,400) bail.

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Vorayuth failed to turn up to face the charges multiple times, claiming he was sick or out of the country on business.

In 2017 he fled to Singapore and abandoned his private jet there before his Thai passport was cancelled the following month as police tried to track him down.

Later that year, Interpol issued a Red Notice – the highest – for his arrest, but that was dropped in 2018.

Since the incident there have been accusations of higher powers helping Vorayuth avoid facing the charges – something the police have always denied.

The speeding charge expired after a year and the charge of fleeing the scene of an accident expired in 2017.

The most serious offence, causing death by reckless driving, was due to expire in 2027.

 

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