Police Silent on Owner of SUV That Killed Irishman

Police on Monday refused to identify the owner of a white Range Rover whose driver hit and killed an Irish national in Phnom Penh’s Chamkar Mon district in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Tomas Edmond Beecher, 30, was walking his bicycle across Monivong Boulevard near the intersection of Street 278 in Boeng Keng Kang I commune at about 1:30 a.m. when the SUV broadsided him, killing him on the spot.

Sem Kunthea, the deputy municipal traffic police chief in charge of the case, said the Range Rover was owned by a police officer, but that his daughter had been driving several passengers from a birthday party at the time of the accident.

“The driver was a girl who is about 20 years old and she has not come to clarify what happened yet,” he said. “Her dad is a tourist police officer.”

Mr. Kunthea said he did not remember the name of the police officer, nor his daughter, and refused to reveal the official’s rank.

“As parents, they will deal with the case and he [the father] will try to persuade his daughter to clarify the case,” Mr. Kunthea said, adding he needed to collect more evidence before making any arrests.

Mr. Kunthea said the British Embassy, which handles consular affairs for Irish nationals, was in possession of Tomas Beecher’s body, which was initially taken to Stung Meanchey pagoda.

Tomas Beecher had been leasing a small bedroom in a rental home in Chamkar Mon district for the past six months, according to his landlord, Bun Souneng.

“He said that he came to Cambodia to open a business,” Ms. Souneng said, adding that the victim had previously spent two years living and teaching in South Korea.

“Tom was a very nice, gentle and friendly guy. The neighbors and I liked him so much,” she said. “He always went out with his bicycle.”

According to a lease agreement signed on September 1, Tomas Beecher recently put down a deposit of $24,300 to take over the Golden Mekong Hotel in Daun Penh district, which closed down about six months ago. Renovations began on the building on September 8.

Va Vantha, 40, who was hired by Tomas Beecher to help bring the hotel back into business, was awaiting the Irishman’s arrival there Monday.

“He was very gentle and he was easygoing,” she said after being informed of his death. “He often came here alone with his bicycle and painted the porch.”

Contacted by telephone, Horm Siphanna, the hotel’s owner, said she also had not been informed about Tomas Beecher’s death, declined to comment further and ordered reporters to leave the building.

“Please, leave [the hotel] right away,” Ms. Siphanna said. “Do not make me call the police to go get you out.”

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