Backpacker jailed in Thailand for 'picking up phone' returns home

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Media caption,

Tattoo artist Chris Dodd, from Poole, spent 10 days in a Thai prison accused of theft

A British backpacker who was arrested and put in prison in Thailand for picking up a mobile phone he found on the floor has returned home for Easter.

Chris Dodd, a 29-year-old tattoo artist from Poole, spent 10 days in a Thai prison accused of theft.

He said he picked up the phone to try to find its owner and in doing so he moved it to a different location, which is considered theft under Thai law.

Mr Dodd was released on bail after family and friends raised £20,000.

Image caption,
Guards shaved off Mr Dodd's dreadlocks when he was arrested but he was allowed to keep them

Mr Dodd said he found the phone just as he was about to get into the taxi after arriving at Chiang Mai airport.

He looked around to see if he could spot someone who may have dropped it but could not see anyone so he decided to take with him to the hostel to try to trace the owner from there.

Soon after arriving at the hostel, Mr Dodd was arrested after police had seen him on CCTV picking it up.

He said: "I was stripped naked, sent in, given a blanket. Then the next thing you know you're being taken into the cells where they house massive amounts of people.

"Nobody spoke English. It was really intimidating. You just have to fight for a space on the floor and you have people's legs all over you."

Image source, Family photo
Image caption,
Chris Dodd had only just arrived in Thailand when he was arrested and put in prison

He had faced a five-year prison term if convicted, but the charges against him were eventually waived and he could return home to the UK.

Speaking to the BBC, Mr Dodd said his lawyer urged him to leave Thailand immediately after the prosecution dropped the case three days ago.

His father Mike Dodd added: "Over there money talks but, yes, it's [also] having a really good lawyer. [The money raised] enabled us to have a really good lawyer. That was fantastic."