herald

Friday 14 December 2018

Brothers quizzed over brutal killings of Thai island pair

Two British brothers have been questioned by police investigating the brutal murders of two Britons in Thailand.

The bodies of David Miller, 24, and 23-year-old Hannah Witheridge - who police believe may have been raped - were discovered on a beach on the island of Koh Tao on Monday.

A spokesman for the Royal Thai Police said brothers Christopher and James Ware had been questioned about the deaths, along with 11 Burmese suspects.

None of those questioned are in custody, although the two Britons are being escorted by police, he said.

Police Colonel Kissana, deputy police spokesman, said: "We have spoken to two British men but they have not been detained. We cannot rule them out. They were close friends and knew all about the victims. We have got to do whatever it takes to obtain concrete evidence."

Earlier police said "strong evidence" had led them to a number of Burmese suspects after blood stains were found on some of their clothes.

The spokesman said DNA tests were being completed and the results would be available tomorrow. He added that police found forensic evidence suggesting Miss Witheridge might have been raped.

Officers were also looking at the possibility that the two victims were having sex on the beach shortly before their deaths, considered a taboo in the deeply religious country, he said. The two victims, who were discovered semi-naked, both suffered deep wounds to the head and face, police said.

A bloodstained garden hoe, believed to be the murder weapon, was found nearby.

Major General Pornchai Sutheerakune, head of the Thai Institute of Forensic Medicine, said a post-mortem had shown Miss Witheridge died from head wounds while Mr Miller died from severe blows to the head and drowning. Mr Miller also suffered wounds on his hand, indicating a struggle had taken place, police said.

More than 70 Thai police have been questioning migrant workers and tourists on the island, visiting hotels, bars, homes and businesses as they search for the killer. The families of both victims have paid tribute to them.

Ms Witheridge was described by her family as "a beautiful, intelligent, loving young woman who poured joy into the lives of all who knew her", while Mr Miller was a "hard-working, bright and conscientious" young man who would be "sorely, sorely missed".

In a statement, Ms Witheridge's family said: "She was selfless and caring and made each and every day that little bit more wonderful.

devastated

"Our family are utterly devastated and shocked by what has happened to our beautiful Hannah. To lose her in the way that we have is beyond comprehension.

"We are heartbroken and no words can possibly describe how we feel. As such, we would be extremely grateful to be left in peace while we come to terms with our loss."

Mr Miller's family said: "David was an artist by temperament, so talented. He had a creative eye that he carried with him through life and in his degree.

"He was hard-working, bright and conscientious, with everything to look forward to.

"David was very giving to his family and friends and we all adored him. He will be sorely, sorely missed."

hnews@herald.ie

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