A man who sexually assaulted a backpacker after she fell 150ft off a cliff has been jailed for five years.
Hannah Gavios, 23, had been teaching English in Vietnam when she decided to take a break in Thailand.
She arrived at Railay Beach in the popular backpacking resort of Krabi in September. But, lost on the beach as night fell, she went into a tourist shop to ask for help finding her hotel.
Worker Apai Ruangwong, 28, offered to show her the way, but instead, he led her into the jungle where he launched a perverted sex attack on her when she fell trying to escape.
Rather than taking her back to her hotel, Ruangwong led Ms Gavios into the jungle and began climbing a mountain. Tired and disorientated, Ms Gavios finally realised she was in grave danger and tried to flee.
But, depraved Ruangwong pinned her down as he tried to take off her clothes.
Ms Gavios managed to fight back, even biting off part of Ruangwong’s ear in her battle to free herself. She then ran, but blindly fell of the edge of a cliff in the darkness.
She fractured her spine and smashed her head off the cliff face before landing crumpled at the bottom, 150ft down.
But even then, Ruangwong’s attack did not stop. He subjected her to a sexual assault lasting hours as she lay paralysed, having broken her neck in the fall.
She said: “I honestly thought I was going to die. I hit my head a few times and landed on a big bump. I was screaming in pain. It was the most painful thing ever. I felt like a total vegetable. I felt completely vulnerable. I couldn’t move anything.”
Ruangwong, who left only to return to the scene with others who launched a rescue operation, was originally sentenced to a decade in jail, but that sentence has now been halved after he pleaded guilty to the assault and causing serious injury.
Ms Gavios’ mother has now spoken out about her anger over the leniency of the sentence.
Gwen Gavios, who is busy fundraising for her daughter’s ongoing medical care, said: “I am dismayed that it is automatically cut down to five years because of a guilty plea.”
Ms Gavios is likely to suffer the physical and psychological consequences of the assault for the rest of her life.
While she has made a partial recovery, she still has no feeling in her ankles, feet and backside and must now learn to walk again with the aid of leg braces and crutches.