Rimmer tried to kill himself and was found by police next to his lover’s dead body in the house they shared in Haverhill, Suffolk, on 29 December 2011
A Thai carer who bludgeoned his pensioner lover to death with a claw hammer after he 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 at least 11 years in July 2012 after being found guilty of murdering her older lover Paul Norfolk the year before.
Rimmer launched the frenzied attack on the 77-year-old ex-soldier with a 12oz hammer as he slept in the house they shared in Haverhill, Suffolk, on December 29, 2011.
She then attempted suicide and was found by police next to her lover’s dead body. Rimmer had head injuries and was unconscious. She had also overdosed, but survived.
Rimmer told police she believed Mr Norfolk planned to throw her out of his home, a claim a judge rejected.
Rimmer accepted killing Mr Norfolk, but denied murder and accepted diminished responsibility, blaming depression from which she was suffering at the time.
A jury found her guilty of murder by a majority verdict after deliberating for seven hours and 35 minutes.
Rimmer, now 59, became eligible for a parole hearing after serving his minimum term this year and appealed in August.
She was told this had been rejected in September.
The arbitral tribunal also decided not to recommend her transfer to an open prison. She is currently being held in closed conditions.
Rimmer failed to convince the three-person board that she had made significant progress in prison 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 Parole Board spokesperson said: “We can confirm that a Parole Board panel refused to release Bunthawee Rimmer following a paper hearing in August 2022. The panel also refused to recommend a transfer to open prison.
“The parole board’s decision is solely focused on what risk a prisoner could represent to the public if released and whether that risk is manageable in society.
“A panel will carefully examine a large body of evidence, including details of the original offense and any evidence of behavioral change, as well as examine the harm and impact the offense has had on victims.
“Payroll reviews are conducted 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 prison and was still found to 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 determined by the Ministry of Justice.’
Rimmer arrived in the UK in 1998 after her late husband Geoffrey Rimmer met her on a Thai beach while she was selling donuts.
Mr Rimmer, who died of natural causes, was a close friend of Mr Norfolk and the couple had regularly traveled to Thailand in the 1990s.
Bunthawee began a sexual relationship with Mr Norfolk in 2010 after she was employed to care for his ailing wife Esme, who suffered from Alzheimer’s.
Rimmer remained with Mr Norfolk after his wife, who also suffered a stroke, was taken into care.
Mr Norfolk first amended his will in early 2011 to leave his house to Rimmer and then again in October 2011 to leave cash in the estate.
When police broke into 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 heard that Rimmer murdered Norfolk in the early hours of December 30, 2011, by hitting him 12 times in the head with a hammer.
The court heard she had heard voices when she got up in the night saying: ‘Dead, dead, dead.’
Rimmer, who has a son from a previous marriage, spoke through an interpreter and said she had felt sad because 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 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, Judge John Saunders said Rimmer’s attack had been “vicious”.
He said: ‘I do not lose sight of the fact that a decent man has lost his life in a brutal way 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 testified and shown admirable fairness and restraint in the way they did this.
“No one should lose their life the way Paul Norfolk did.
“It was an evil thing to do, as I am satisfied that the defendant recognized and led her to try to kill herself.”
Mr Justice John Saunders added: “I am satisfied that the defendant’s story that Paul Norfolk said he would relinquish her services as carer was untrue.
“It is inconsistent with the rest of the evidence which involved Paul Norfolk saying he could not live without the defendant.
‘Early on the morning of December 30, the defendant armed himself with his hammer and struck Paul Norfolk at least twelve hard blows with the hammer.
“I will deal with the defendant on the basis that this was a determined attempt on her own life and that she caused herself significant harm.
I don’t know why she killed Paul Norfolk. Subsequently in prison I am satisfied that her mental state, which was affected by depression, deteriorated further.’
The court was told that Norfolk served in the army’s tank regiment for three years from the age of 18. Later he worked for the fragrance company International Flowers and Fragrances (IFF), in Haverhill.
After the verdict, Norfolk’s family released a statement paying tribute to him.
It read: ‘Paul was the youngest in 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 buddies and was still in touch with one of them when he died.
For thirty years he was employed at IFF in Haverhill. After marriage he settled in his house in Castle Lane, where he was still living at the time of his death.
‘Paul was a very generous, kind and likeable man. He was liked and respected by all who knew him, especially by his neighbors and their children by whom he was affectionately called “Uncle”. He was always ready to help others.
‘His brother and I (both in their eighties) are absolutely devastated at the viciously cruel way in which our gentle, loving and much loved brother was taken from us. It was a blow from which we will never recover.
‘Our remaining years will be spent mourning him, who brought joy and happiness into our lives and whom we will always remember as our dearest Paul. With all our love, Peter and Pansy.
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