herald

Sunday 22 October 2017

Final moments of couple hacked to death on beach

Thai Police investigating the murders of backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller have released CCTV images of the couple walking hand in hand just a short time before they were killed.

They hope the images, which also show an Asian man hanging around close to where they bodies were found, will help them catch the killer.

CCTV shows a couple leaving a beach party near the crime scene in Thailand. It came as detectives on the tiny Thai island held three Burmese workers for questioning, but they have stressed they are still following a number of lines of inquiry.

TRAVELLING

Initially, Thai police said they were keen to speak to a British friend of Mr Miller who had been travelling with him but had left the island shortly after the murders, but later said he had been ruled out of the investigation.

Describing the Asian suspect who was spotted in the CCTV footage, Lt Col Somsak of the Thai police said: "The man walked back and forth in the area sometimes quite hurriedly during the period it is estimated the victims died, between 2am and 4am. We are in the process of trying to identify this man."

The bodies of 23-year-old graduate Miss Witheridge from Great Yarmouth and 24-year-old Mr Miller from Jersey, were found shortly before dawn by a member of staff at the Ocean View Resort where they had been staying with their friends.

Miss Witheridge had only arrived on Koh Tao on September 12, while Mr Miller was on his way back to the UK having spent a gap-year travelling through Australia and Asia.

The woman who found the victims said she had not slept since finding the badly mutilated bodies. Aow Suchana, a mother-of-three said: "Many, many injuries. The teeth were broken. The eyes. I can't leave my room. I can't forget.

"When you see a dead person you cannot forget. I was so shocked when I saw. I thought: 'What happened? What happened? Why? Why? Why?'"

As the impact of the attacks continued to sink in, fellow backpackers made their way to the place where the bodies were found to lay wreaths of flowers.

One floral tribute had a message attached that read: "Two lives taken - please rest in peace. Life is so short when it's taken away so quickly. The universe works in strange ways that we will never be able to understand."

Narong Det Kanchana Pen, the 50-year-old owner of Ocean View, the small beachside resort where the two victims had been staying and had met, said Koh Tao had never witnessed anything similar.

"They didn't argue with anyone. They came here to enjoy - I don't think they have a problem with anybody. I want to know who did this and why - and I want to know soon. It's bad for Thailand. Killing with so much anger is not normal."

Meanwhile, tributes continued to be paid to the two victims. Mr Miller's girlfriend Jessy Howorth led tributes, writing on Facebook: "My best friend and the love of my life. We were meant to have so much more time together but I'll continue loving you every day forever x."

hnews@herald.ie

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