A reformed drug smuggler has revealed how he became the first and only Westerner to escape a maximum security prison in

A reformed drug smuggler has revealed how he became the first and only Westerner to escape a maximum security prison in Thailand in an audacious plot involving Chinese Triads, umbrella and a DIY ladder. 

British-Australian David McMillan, now 64, was sent to the notorious Klong Prem Central Prison — ironically nicknamed the ‘Bangkok Hilton’ — in 1993 after being arrested on drug trafficking charges. 

McMillan, who had already spent 11 years in an Australian prison on drugs charges, resolved to escape the ‘Bangkok Hilton’ after learning he was facing the death penalty and could be executed within weeks. 

Speaking in an interview with, McMillan recalled how he broke out from his prison cell with the help of a criminal nicknamed the ‘Viking’, a poster containing hacksaws, and an ability to adapt when his original plan to swim across the prison moat fell apart. 

‘From the moment I stepped into that prison in Bangkok, escape was on my mind,’ he said. 

Reformed criminal: British-Australian David McMillan, now 64, was sent to the notorious Klong Prem Central Prison - ironically nicknamed the 'Bangkok Hilton' - in 1993 after being arrested on drug trafficking charges. Pictured, McMillan as a young man

Reformed criminal: British-Australian David McMillan, now 64, was sent to the notorious Klong Prem Central Prison — ironically nicknamed the ‘Bangkok Hilton’ — in 1993 after being arrested on drug trafficking charges.Pictured, McMillan as a young man

Escape: Speaking in an interview with LADBible, McMillan recalled how he broke out from his prison cell with the help of a criminal nicknamed the 'Viking', a poster containing hacksaws, and an ability to adapt when his original plan to swim across the prison moat fell apart

Escape: Speaking in an interview with LADBible, McMillan recalled how he broke out from his prison cell with the help of a criminal nicknamed the ‘Viking’, a poster containing hacksaws, and an ability to adapt when his original plan to swim across the prison moat fell apart

Audacious: McMillan became the first and only Westerner to escape Klong Prem Central Prison in Thailand, pictured from above, by breaking out of his cell, avoiding guards, scaling a wall using a makeshift ladder and 'walking' through the front gate under an umbrella

Audacious: McMillan became the first and only Westerner to escape Klong Prem Central Prison in Thailand, pictured from above, by breaking out of his cell, avoiding guards, scaling a wall using a makeshift ladder and ‘walking’ through the front gate under an umbrella

McMillian became involved in the drugs trade in Australia in the 1970s, personalised gifts whiskey glass eventually building an international smuggling ring involving ‘couriers’, or mules, operating across South America, Europe, Thailand and Australia.  

He was first jailed in 1982, after he was found guilty of drug trafficking.He was sentenced to 11 years at Melbourne’s Pentridge Prison, during which time he survived a fatal fire in the high security unit that claimed the lives of six fellow inmates. 

In 1993, while still on parole in Australia, he flew to Thailand to collect money he had stored there.But moments before boarding an outbound flight at Bangkok Airport, he was spotted by police and later arrested in the city’s Chinatown neighbourhood.  

‘My head was burning with rage, I can’t tell you had careful I had been, or thought I had been, to make sure no one knew where I was,’ he said.  

He was found with a forged passport and enough drugs to be arrested and convicted of drug trafficking. The maximum sentence for a drug trafficking charge in Thailand is death. 

McMillan was transferred to Klong Prem, considered one of the world’s worst prisons, which holds up to 20,000 inmates across a number of different sections, including a women’s prison and a correctional institute for drug addicts.  

The main men’s prison, where McMillan was held, has in the region of 8,000 inmates.

‘The foreigners section was nothing more than a broken collection of ruined people that the wind had blown into a corner of Asia,’ he said.’Nobody in there was going anywhere. The sentences were usually between 40 years to life.’

Criminal past: McMillian, pictured, became involved in the drugs trade in Australia in the 1970s, eventually building an international smuggling ring involving 'couriers', or mules, operating across South America, Europe, Thailand and Australia

Criminal past: McMillian, pictured, became involved in the drugs trade in Australia in the 1970s, eventually building an international smuggling ring involving ‘couriers’, or mules, operating across South America, Europe, Thailand and Australia

McMillan was in a shared cell on the third floor of block six.Among his cellmates was a Swedish man, named Sten, who was known as ‘the Viking’.

After more than two years in Klong Prem, McMillan decided to escape after learning his case would be ‘brought to an end’.  

‘[I was told] I would be found guilty and within two weeks I would be sentenced to death. The execution wasn’t pretty.It was by machine gun. The prisoner was tied a plank and a machine gun that is welded to a bench has three strings tied to it and three guards pull those strings so none of the guards can say «it was my gun who had ended that man’s life».’

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