Cleared in hit-run, Jomsap gets teaching licence back

Jomsap Saenmuangkhot, seen here speaking with the media when she was fighting her case in February, now will be able to teach again. (Bangkok Post file photo)

The Teachers’ Council of Thailand (TCT) yesterday decided to return a teaching licence to Jomsap Saenmuangkhot, a former Sakon Nakhon teacher who was jailed for a hit-and-run killing in 2005.

The TCT’s resolution came after Ms Jomsap last week submitted a petition to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha via a public complaint centre at the PM’s Permanent Secretary’s Office in Bangkok, asking for help.

The TCT’s acting secretary-general Somsak Dolprasit said the TCT decided to return her licence because the conviction should not prevent her from returning to the civil service.

In fact her case was a light, unintentional offence, so she deserved another break.

Mr Somsak said Ms Jomsap was still waiting for the Supreme Court’s decision on whether to accept her retrial application.

He said her case has also set up a new standard for other teachers accused of committing crimes and who are awaiting a court ruling on an appeal.

The case of Ms Jomsap, a 54-year-old former teacher, was reopened early this year after Ms Jomsap, freed from prison in 2015, sought help from the Justice Ministry’s Legal Aid Centre for Debtors and Victims of Injustice after she was convicted of reckless driving causing death.

Ms Jomsap denied the allegation against her, insisting she had an alibi as she was with her family in Sakon Nakhon when the accident happened.

However, she was sentenced to three years and two months in jail in 2013, and released in 2015 under a royal pardon.

After she had been released from the prison, she asked the Sakon Nakhon Education Area Office to reinstate her as a public school teacher.

Permission was granted in early February on the condition she must submit a teaching licence.

Ms Jomsap’s teaching licence expired during her trial as she could not file for a licence renewal within the deadline.

As a result, she had to apply for a new licence with the TCT, which requires a committee to consider her application. She got her licence back yesterday.

The former teacher said earlier her life was difficult after her civil servant rights were removed as she still had a family to raise.

She said she might soon lose her house and land as she has to pay her children’s education expenses plus other debts.

Ms Jomsap was detained after police alleged she was involved in a car accident, which killed one motorcycle driver, in Nakhon Phanom’s Renu Nakhon district on March 11, 2005.

Rejecting her alibi, the Nakhon Phanom Provincial Court convicted her of reckless driving causing death and sentenced her to three years and two months in jail.

“I was fired from my job. The moment I was taken from the court to prison, I felt like a dead woman walking,” she said.

“After being jailed, my family was ruined,” Ms Jomsap added.

She said the incident also resulted in one of her children being forced to leave school because she could not earn an income to support the child.

She worked as a teacher in her hometown for 31 years before being jailed.

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