18 June 2009
Bar mat theft Australian refused US visa
An Australian woman convicted of stealing a bar mat in Thailand cannot take her children on a dream holiday to Disneyland because the US government has refused her American Tourist Visa application.
Annice Smoel, from Melbourne, planned to take her four daughters to Disneyland because of the distress they suffered during her 18-day detention in Thailand, but the US embassy says her conviction means she is ineligible for an American Tourist Visa.
Smoel was given a six-month suspended sentence and a small fine for the theft in return for a guilty plea.
She said her daughters, aged 6 to 12, would be "absolutely devastated" they could not go to America.
"They've been having nightmares and coming into mum's bed at night since I got back. It would have been the perfect way to take their minds off all of what's happened," she told News Limited.
Smoel said American Government authorities may reconsider if the wording of her charge makes it a misdemeanour and not a felony.
"I've got to get all the Thai court documents translated into English and hope the charge is a misdemeanour and not a felony, but I'm not very hopeful," she said.
The American Visa Bureau is an independent consulting company specialising in American visa and immigration services.