Prison sentence looms for New Zealand brothers Hamish and Oscar Day after altercation with Thai policeman

A prison sentence looks certain for two New Zealanders filmed wrestling a Thai police officer to the ground and taking his gun.

Thai police say Hamish and Oscar Day will be banned from the country after the incident in Phuket, but a local journalist says the humiliating pictures will almost certainly lead to custodial sentences before they're booted out.

"There's a sense that foreigners come in, do as they please and don't respect Thai culture, and the two New Zealand brothers could not have picked a worse time to pull their stunt," Dave Kendall, a journalist with the Bangkok Post, said.

Kendall said the altercation, now streaming on thousands of screens in two countries, is not a good look for the brothers.

"Optically it was terrible. Thais are a very proud nation. So, there's really not a more humiliating image you can imagine than, you know, a Royal Thai police officer being wrestled to the ground by a big foreigner - it just doesn't look good," Kendall said.

Police were initially outraged when the brothers sped past the Chalong Police Station on rented motorbikes, which he said was a sign of great disrespect to the Thai authorities.

Police said the pair had been blacklisted from Thailand and they want them detained until trial on five charges: conspiracy to commit robbery, obstructing a police officer, attacking a police officer, attempting to bribe an official and driving without a driver's licence. 

Usually, unruly foreigners simply get deported but not this time.

"It's got such great publicity and it's become an image now. It's become a really hot topic so I think they may spend some jail time in Thailand," Kendall said.

It's reported Oscar Day, who wrestled with the police officer, is an MMA fighter.

"I suggest if they're with a bunch of Thai men in a big room they might have a chance to practice their Mixed Martial Arts skills," Kendall said.

The men's father, Laurence Day, is a Hamilton businessman but Kendall said that may not help as foreigners had been accused in a spate of high-profile violent crimes.

"The Thai press has totally picked up on the narrative that these are rich, spoilt foreigners coming in, doing as they please, not respecting local Thai culture," he said.

Kendall's best advice - apologies go a long way in Thailand.

"I think if the brothers really show penitence and made some big apologies I think they might be able to leave sooner rather than later."

But not before, it seems likely, they spend time at his majesty's pleasure.