Thai carer who beat lover to death is denied move to an open prison

EXCLUSIVE: Thai carer who beat her lover, 77, to death with a 12oz claw hammer after he changed his will to leave her £340,000 is denied permission to move to an open prison

  • Bunthawee Rimmer, then 49, was jailed for a minimum of 11 years in July 2012 
  • Found guilty of murdering her elderly lover Paul Norfolk, 77, in December 2011 
  • Rimmer killed former soldier with a hammer in his sleep in Haverhill, Suffolk
  • Not granted move to open prison due to a lack of progress and being dangerous 

Rimmer tried to kill herself and was found by police officers next to her lover’s dead body in the house they shared in Haverhill, Suffolk, on the 29th December 2011

A Thai carer who beat her pensioner lover to death with a claw hammer after he had changed his will to leave her £340,000 has been refused a move to an open prison.

Callous Bunthawee Rimmer, then 49, was jailed for a minimum of 11 years in July 2012 after being found guilty of murdering her elderly lover Paul Norfolk the year before.

Rimmer launched the frenzied attack on the 77-year-old former soldier with a 12oz hammer as he slept in the house they shared in Haverhill, Suffolk, on the 29th December 2011.

She then tried to commit suicide and was found by police officers next to her lover’s dead body. Rimmer had head injuries and was unconscious. She had also taken an overdose, but survived.

Rimmer told police she believed Mr Norfolk planned to throw her out of his home, a claim which a judge rejected.

Rimmer accepted killing Mr Norfolk, but denied murder and claimed diminished responsibility, blaming depression she was suffering from at the time.

A jury found her guilty of murder by a majority verdict having deliberated for seven hours and 35 minutes.

Rimmer, now 59, became eligible for a parole hearing after serving her minimum term this year and had the appeal in August.

She was told this had been rejected in September.

The Parole Board also decided not to recommend her for a transfer to an open prison. She is currently held in closed conditions.

Rimmer failed to convince the three-person board that she had made significant progress in jail and was still too dangerous for open conditions. She will be eligible for a new hearing in 2024.

Paul Norfolk (pictured), then 77, was bludgeoned to death with a 12oz hammer as he slept by his Thai lover Bunthawee Rimmer, then 49, after he left her everything in his will 

A spokesperson for the Parole Board said: ‘We can confirm that a panel of the Parole Board refused the release of Bunthawee Rimmer following a paper hearing in August 2022. The panel also refused to recommend a move to open prison.

‘Parole Board decisions are solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in the community.

‘A panel will carefully examine a huge range of evidence, including details of the original crime, and any evidence of behaviour change, as well as explore the harm done and impact the crime has had on the victims.

‘Parole reviews are undertaken thoroughly and with extreme care. Protecting the public is our number one priority.

Rimmer (pictured) has been refused a move to an open prison after failing to convince the board that she had made significant progress in jail and was  found to still be too dangerous for open conditions

‘Under current legislation she will be eligible for a further review in due course. The date of the next review will be set by the Ministry of Justice.’

Rimmer arrived in Britain in 1998 after her late husband Geoffrey Rimmer met her on a Thai beach while she was selling doughnuts.

Mr Rimmer, who died from natural causes, was a close friend of Mr Norfolk and the pair had travelled to Thailand regularly during the 1990s.

Bunthawee started a sexual relationship with Mr Norfolk in 2010 after she was employed to care for his sick wife Esme, who suffered from alzheimer’s.

Rimmer stayed living with Mr Norfolk after his wife, who also suffered a stroke, was taken into care.

Mr Norfolk first changed his will in early 2011 to leave his house to Rimmer and then again in October 2011 to leave her any cash left in the estate.

When police broke into Mr Norfolk’s home they found Rimmer lying on the bed next to his bloodied body.

At her two-week trial at Ipswich Crown Court in March 2012, the jury was told that Rimmer murdered Mr Norfolk in the early hours of 30th December 2011 by hitting him 12 times on the head with a hammer.

The court heard she had heard voices when she got up in the night, saying: ‘Dead, dead, dead.’

Speaking through an interpreter, Rimmer, who has a son from a previous marriage, said that she had felt sad because Mr Norfolk told her he wanted to ‘dump her’.

Andrew Johnson, prosecuting, said: ‘I put it to you that, for reasons that you do not want to tell this jury, you decided to kill Mr Norfolk.’

Rimmer replied: ‘I have never thought of killing Mr Norfolk. I love him. I have no reason to kill him.’

The jury did not believe her version of events and found her guilty of murder by a majority verdict.

Jailing her, Mr Justice John Saunders said Rimmer’s attack had been ‘wicked’.

He said: ‘I do not lose sight of the fact that a decent man has lost his life in a brutal fashion at the age of 77.

‘Paul Norfolk was by all accounts a well liked, decent man. His death is a tragedy for his family, some of whom have given evidence and demonstrated admirable fairness and restraint in the way they did this.

‘No-one should lose their life in the way that Paul Norfolk did.

‘It was a wicked thing to do, as I am satisfied the defendant recognised and led to her trying to kill herself.’

Mr Justice John Saunders added: ‘I am satisfied that the defendant’s account that Paul Norfolk was saying that he was going to dispense with her services as a carer was untrue.

‘It is inconsistent with the rest of the evidence which was to the effect that Paul Norfolk was saying that he couldn’t live without the defendant.

‘In the early hours of the morning of the 30th December the defendant armed herself with her hammer and struck Paul Norfolk at least twelve fierce blows with the hammer.

‘I will deal with the defendant on the basis that this was a determined attempt on her own life and she did cause herself significant injury.

‘I do not know why she killed Paul Norfolk. Thereafter in prison I am satisfied that her mental state, which was affected by depression, deteriorated further.’

The court was told that Mr Norfolk served in the army’s Tank Regiment for three years from the age of 18. Later, he worked for scent firm International Flowers and Fragrances (IFF), in Haverhill.

Following the sentence Mr Norfolk’s family released a statement paying tribute to him.

It read: ‘Paul was the youngest of a family of four and had a happy childhood in the village of Ridgewell. We were a happy and united family. Paul was a popular and well liked member of the community.

‘At eighteen years old, he joined the Tank Regiment and served in the army for three years. He was well-liked by his army friends and was still in touch with one of them at the time of his death.

‘For thirty years he was employed at IFF in Haverhill. Upon marriage he settled into his house in Castle Lane, where he was still living at the time of his death.

‘Paul was a very generous, kind and sympathetic man. He was liked and respected by everyone who knew him especially by his neighbours and their children by whom he was affectionately called ‘Uncle’. He was always ready to help others.

‘His brother and I (both in our eighties) are completely devastated by the wickedly cruel way in which our gentle, loving and much loved brother was taken from us. It was a blow from which we shall never recover.

‘Our remaining years will be spent grieving for him, who brought joy and happiness into our lives and whom we shall always remember as our dearest Paul. With all our love, Peter and Pansy.’

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