Miss Witheridge, a University of Essex student from Hemsby, Norfolk and Mr Miller, a civil and . Call Us Today! Photograph: PA The police were accused of buckling under pressure to solve a crime that attracted worldwide attention. True Crime: In September of 2014, Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found on Koh Tao's famous Sairee beach, dead. Greg Shepherd, 34, from Luton in the U.K., tells TIME he witnessed a man getting shot in the face in a bar north of Sairee Beach in the mid-2000s. Both had been in Thailand since August and had met just hours before their deaths. [11] The two met in Koh Tao while staying at the same hotel. Its something but its not enough, he says. Use of this site constitutes acceptance of our, Digital Write to Charlie Campbell at charlie.campbell@time.com. [15] Experts have considered the forensic investigation to have been incompetent, and to have possibly framed the suspects. [29][30] The police initially speculated about who the culprit might be, alleging various individuals of perpetrating the crime without clear evidence. [14][22] The police moved the bodies to prevent them being swept up in the rising tide. Ringed by coral gardens and teeming with kaleidoscope shoals of tropical fish, it was primarily known, until now, for its diving. Will [tourists] survive in Thailand if they dress in bikinis? he asked Sept. 17. Expats dont want to lose their time in paradise, Earley says, as its cheap, its nice living, and its very easy to ignore what happens.. [5][6] Both were students who were backpacking in Thailand. The second individual, Wai Phyo, had allegedly fled the island by boat the previous night. The government of Thailand was concerned the murders might affect tourism to the island, with arrivals dropping in the months following the murders. David and Hannah were seen together at a local pub called AC Bar with friends on September 14th, according to reports, before they left together at 1:00 am. So, if youre interested in finding out more about the case, including the perpetrators identities, heres what we know. According to reports, they allegedly confessed to the murders, stating the migrant workers wanted to rape Hannah after getting aroused while reportedly seeing her kissing David on the beach. Two Burmese workers were sentenced to death in 2015,. [23] Local residents blocked the pier to prevent the unidentified killers from leaving the island. [35][84] Despite not initially being permitted to assist with the investigation,[33] British police observers including homicide detectives from the Metropolitan Police and a forensics expert were eventually permitted into Thailand to observe the investigation. The children always loved her. A CCTV video of a woman running near the scene is described but not . Junta chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha enraged many by hinting that the blame, at some level, lay with the attractive victims. A royal commutation does not require an admission of guilt, says the BBC's Jonathan Head in Bangkok. David Miller and Hannah Witheridge only met each other by chance, when they and their friends stayed in adjoining rooms of the Ocean View Bungalows, a small backpacker complex overlooking the white sand sweep of Sairee beach on the Thai island of Koh Tao. [80][81], The Prime Minister of Thailand, Prayut Chan-o-cha, said "[foreign female tourists] think our country is beautiful and safe and they can do whatever they want, wear bikinis wherever they like. VideoThe secret mine that hid the Nazis' stolen treasure, LGBT troops take love for Eurovision to front line, Why an Indian comedian is challenging fake news rules. [55], The defence claimed that the investigation was flawed due to mishandling of forensic evidence, lack of legal representation during interrogations, use of threats and intimidation to secure a confession, and intimidation of witnesses. [4], The victims of the murders were Hannah Witheridge, a 23-year-old from Hemsby, England, and David Miller, a 24-year-old from Jersey, a Crown Dependency. [70] Wai Phyo was also convicted of theft for allegedly stealing a phone and sunglasses from Miller's body. Miss Witheridge's family paid tribute to their . Hannah Witheridge and David Miller's bodies were found on a beach in Koh Tao in September 2014 Two Burmese migrants convicted over the killings had their death sentences reduced to life. A post-mortem examination showed she had been raped. A mute Burmese beach cleaner discovered the bodies shortly after dawn the following morning at Ocean View Bungalows. Far from official oversight, de facto control falls to the owners of booming hospitality businesses that were developed on land originally obtained, via government concessions, for coconut plantations. Two weeks later, two illegal Burmese migrant workers were blamed for the deaths, primarily on the basis of DNA evidence, and confessed following an hours-long interrogation. Thai king commutes Myanmar men's death sentence over Britons' murder, Thailand backpacker murders: Burmese workers sentenced to death, British backpacker murder case that put Thailand on trial, WhyUK role in backpackers murder case still worries rights groups, Why UK role in case still worries rights groups, in a statement released by the Foreign Office. [1][15][16] Miller's body was found floating in the water, and Witheridge's on the beach;[17] the bodies lay approximately 20 metres apart and 30 metres away from their hotel (Ocean View Bungalows). There was so much he could be doing with his life, and having it cut short is unbelievably cruel. At present, the case rests on DNA evidence linking cigarette butts found around 20 m from the bodies next to a crooked log where Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo admit they were playing guitar and drinking beer on the evening in question. Complaining about wrongdoing may invite official questions and demands for passports and documentation. Miss Witheridge, a University of Essex student from Hemsby in Norfolk, and Mr Miller, a civil and structural engineering graduate, from Jersey, were bludgeoned to death. [15] Public prosecutors initially rejected the report, asking for "certain flaws" to be fixed, more information to be supplied, and for the report to be made "more succinct". The police investigation and criminal trial were widely criticised by international media, human rights organisations, and legal experts. VideoThe secret mine that hid the Nazis' stolen treasure, LGBT troops take love for Eurovision to front line. 23 Sep 2014. According to Kingsley Abbott, Southeast Asia legal expert for the International Commission of Jurists, The defense must be afforded adequate time and facilities to explore whether the alleged destruction of evidence in this case was appropriate and unavoidable, and to test the prosecution case overall.. However, Zaw and Wai retracted their confession after they were allowed legal counsel, with a consulate lawyer for Myanmar alleging their clients had been beaten, tortured, and threatened to make the admissions necessary to close the widely publicized case. On 15 September, the bodies of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found on Sairee Beach on the island of Koh Tao, between 4 and 5 am, a few hours after their deaths.Both victims had been hit several times on the head; Witheridge had been raped, and Miller had been drowned. 2040 / 2557", https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Koh_Tao_murders&oldid=1150069590, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License 3.0, This page was last edited on 16 April 2023, at 05:03. [38] Both men were 22-year-old illegal migrant workers from Rakhine, Myanmar, who worked in the hospitality industry. Wai was also convicted of theft and pled guilty to entering the country illegally, while Zaw was not charged since he held a work permitfor the two years preceding the murders. Hannah Witheridge pictured on Facebook back in September 2013. Their bodies were found close to the beach bungalows where they had been staying. They threatened to kill me, saying: We can throw you into the sea and feed your corpse to the fish.. Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo are two of an estimated 2 million irregular Burmese migrants, along with smaller numbers from neighboring Cambodia and Laos, currently working low-paid jobs in comparatively thriving Thailand. Thailands National Human Rights Commission investigated these allegations, but progress has been glacial, not least because police representatives failed to turn up to four arranged meetings. It will take a bit of time to find loopholes to appeal. [51] This decision was criticised by the Solicitors International Human Rights Group, one of the observers at the trial. They stated they were driven by a desire to rape the victim following sexual arousal when they saw the couple kissing on the beach. [93] Amid the investigation, Tourism and Sports Minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul visited Koh Tao on 28 September 2014 in an attempt to reassure tourists. That the victims were tourists automatically drew more attention, says Thai political analyst Saksith Saiyasombut. Hannah Witheridge was a college student at the University of Essex and lived there, according to her Facebook page. His former headteacher described him as a bright young man and a talented artist, with real potential to forge a worthwhile and fruitful path in his life. Sky News reports that Miller was chopped in the back and the side of his head, Witheridges injuries were to her head. He was travelling Southeast Asia with a friend after completing a six-week work placement in Australia with a mining company,[6][8][9] and arrived in Thailand in August. [15] Some migrants who were questioned complained that officers scalded them with boiling water during interrogations, allegations which were denied by the police. The hoe was then used to knock Witheridge unconscious, after which the defendants used force to hold her down and took turns raping her, before killing her with the hoe. Powered by WordPress.com VIP. A mute Burmese beach cleaner stumbled upon the bodies shortly after dawn. Ill never meet anyone like her. Lucy and Hannah were both receiving training to help people with speech difficulties, and Lucy said Hannah wanted to go on to work with children. Torture allegations aside, the proceedings have been peppered with oddities. A year after Millers death his parents unveiled a memorial for him, a bench on the north coast of his home island, inscribed, Never let a person sit alone. Hannah Witheridge (left), 23, and David Miller, 24, were killed on the island of Koh Tao on 15 September 2015. Read More: Dilleen Hempel Murder: Who Killed Her? A royal decree said the sentences had been reviewed to commemorate King Vajiralongkorn's birthday on 28 July and to "illustrate the king's clemency". [42] In the trial, the prosecution said the phone was found smashed at the home of a friend of Zaw Lin's. Dehumanizing as it sounds, they are a commodity for some people., Asked whether he has a message for his compatriots considering working in Thailand, Wai Phyo simply says, Be careful when you go out at night as you might step in the wrong place., WE HAVE LEARNED TO TAKE CARE OF VISITORS. Only if they are not beautiful." However, the investigators quickly dismissed him as a suspect. Magazines, Or create a free account to access more articles, This Septic Isle: Backpackers, Bloodshed and the Secretive World of Koh Tao. (Both families declined to comment when contacted by TIME.). The defense lawyers also claimed Wai had found Davids phone on the beach and was traveling by boat to Surat Thani for his new job on the day he was arrested. They still maintain their innocence, as they did throughout the trial. The DNA specialist conceded the perpetuators could've used gloves. [10][32] They highlighted a British tourist who had shared a room with Miller as a suspect, labelling it a "crime of passion"; he became the subject of a nationwide manhunt before the police quickly dropped the lead. [67] Protesters called for the release of the two suspects, who they believed were innocent and scapegoated for the crime. They also pointed out several mistakes the incompetent investigators committed during the probe and alleged the officers restored to torture to make the defendants admit to the crime. So sad to hear that young man murdered in Thailand was Jerseyman David Miller. [1][31] Pornthip Rojanasunand, a Thai forensic scientist, testified at the trial that the crime scene was poorly managed. [1] Police revealed that the samples from Witheridge's body were used up,[62][27] but were able to provide DNA samples from the murder weapon. Hannah Witheridge and David Miller. [82][83] The UK government expressed concerns with the investigation, and summoned a Thai diplomat in London to discuss them. In December 2015, the pair were convicted of the murder and sentenced to death. The investigators claimed the semen sample retrieved from Hannahs body and the forensic evidence found on the murder weapons and cigarette butts matched their DNA samples. I'm asking if they wear bikinis in Thailand, will they be safe?

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