A Thai house painter cut off the penises of two teenagers with a knife after he found out they had stolen 50,000 baht ($1,250) of his savings from an ATM machine, police said on Saturday.

Manit Srithammathan, 40, told police the teenagers, now in hospital, deserved the punishment as they had betrayed his kindness in letting them stay at his Bangkok suburban house, they said. "There's nothing they deserved more for stealing the money I saved that could have helped me get a job abroad," a police spokesman quoted him as saying.

The painter, facing charges of life-threatening assaults and unlawful confinement, said he could not control his rage as the boys, aged 14 and 15, refused to confess to the theft which he discovered after checking a video record kept by the bank.