Wai Phyo, a Real Madrid fanatic who idolizes FIFA world player of the year Cristiano Ronaldo, moves a virtually hairless top lip as he talks.  Several other suspects were also named, amid pressure to produce results, a new one every other day. He hailed fromJersey, a Crown Dependency, and graduated from Victoria College in 2008.  The police said the suspects' DNA matched a sample of semen taken from Witheridge's body, and to the hoe and cigarette butts found near the body. In fact, says Sean Turnell, a professor and expert on Burmese economics at Australias Macquarie University, The economic circumstances of Myanmars majority rural population are now marginally worse than before the reforms were launched.. The family said it had brought to a close a "lengthy and disturbing period" where activists on social media had attempted to influence justice in Thailand and public opinion elsewhere. Both were found dead early on the morning of September 15. 2023 Cinemaholic Inc. All rights reserved. Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, both 22-year-old ethnic Rakhine from Burmas restive Arakan state, were arrested on Oct. 2. , During an hours-long interrogation, during which the police used Burmese food vendors as interpreters because the pair could not speak Thai, the suspects confessed to the murders. Burmese bar workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were found guilty of murder in 2015. The convictions were mired in controversy, with supporters of the two men arguing they had been framed because their initial confessions were made under duress. 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. Police and court systems were hacked or taken offline in the following days, and a stash of personal information obtained from the court's servers was posted publicly. After unsuccessfully trying to find their possessions, they walked towards Mau Mau's house through the shortcut, which resulted in them being caught on CCTV. Theories abound on Koh Tao about who killed Miller and Witheridge. After finally receiving independent legal counsel, Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, who had no prior criminal records, claimed they had been tortured during interrogation and recanted. Typically, they work seven days a week for a pittance, sleeping in bamboo shacks erected in jungle clearances. , The prosecution also claimed the defendants entered the country in violation of the Immigration Act of 1979. Attempts to appeal the sentence failed, but a royal decree was issued by King Vajiralongkorn in 2020 commuting the death sentences to life imprisonment.  They focused on foreign nationals, with a spokesperson for the police claiming "Thais wouldn't do this". The area plays host to a weekly beach party on Sunday nights. Read More: Dilleen Hempel Murder: Who Killed Her? On July 10, the bench again ordered the DNA to be retested, only for the police to reveal that certain key samples specifically those retrieved from the victims bodies had been used up. They toil in slavelike conditions for pitiful wages in occupations typically described as 3-D dirty, dangerous, degrading. According to the BBC, staff from the British embassy left for Koh Tao soon after the news broke of the murders. He was returning from a placement in Australia when he stopped in Thailand for a holiday with a friend. 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. They had no prior criminal records. Their senseless deaths sparked international outrage and raised questions about j Of the 25 million foreign visitors who touch down in Thailand each year, half a million grace Koh Tao, the smallest of three popular tourist islands in the Thai Gulf. , The 2014 murders, along with other deaths and disappearances of tourists, led to British tabloids labelling Koh Tao as "Death Island". Pathologists and legal experts criticised the police for mishandling the evidence, allowing contamination of the crime scene and failing to use experts to collect forensic evidence. (Both families declined to comment when contacted by TIME.).  Witheridge's body indicated she had been raped. The secret mine that hid the Nazis' stolen treasure. However, the Thai police have denied these allegations and termed them baseless. Millers family also travelled to Koh Samui, the larger island near Koh Tao where the trial was held, to see some of the evidence. Only if they are not beautiful." Their senseless deaths sparked international outrage and raised questions about justice on Koh Tao. The family travelled to see parts of the subsequent trial of the two young Burmese migrant workers accused of the murders, partly paid for by a crowdfunding appeal set up to cover the costs of travel and translation at the hearings. Thailands tourist industry is already reeling from the effects of marital law. Hannah Witheridge and David Miller.  Footage near the crime scene also showed one of the three men running into a shortcut. Witheridge was travelling with three other friends, and Miller with two others. Home; Service.  A British defence lawyer, Felicity Gerry QC, said the trial was "far too rushed and unfair to the defense". Zaw Lin was not convicted of this charge because he held a work permit for the two years preceding the murders.  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.  After initially failing to find a match to one of the migrant workers, the police focused their attention on Western tourists related to the victims. Its something but its not enough, he says. Torture allegations aside, the proceedings have been peppered with oddities.  They plead not guilty to the charge at the trial, but Wai Phyo changed his plea to guilty during the proceedings. Explore in 3D: The dazzling crown that makes a king. "Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo finally admitted to the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge and the murder of our son.". 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. , The investigation was met with criticism by international media, human rights groups, and legal experts. 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. Zaw Lin was said to have entered between 2011 and 2012, and Wai Phyo in 2012. He was travelling Southeast Asia with a friend after completing a six-week work placement in Australia with a mining company, and arrived in Thailand in August. The police quickly elicited a confession and, after a macabre reconstruction of the murders before a swarm of media including a staged session of penitent prayers by the accused probably hoped that the case looked closed. Nevertheless, few have rallied to the defense of the accused. Both men, in their early 30s, are presumed to be serving their sentence in some Thailand prison. Telegraph.co.uk. Over the coming weeks we hope to gain a better understanding as to how such a wonderful young man lost his life in such idyllic surroundings in such a horrible way, said Millers family in a statement at the opening of the trial.  Miller's body was found floating in the water, and Witheridge's on the beach; the bodies lay approximately 20 metres apart and 30 metres away from their hotel (Ocean View Bungalows). The balcony of room A5 at Ocean View Bungalows commands one of the finest vistas of Koh Taos sweeping Sairee Beach. Several forensic experts claimed the police collected forensic evidence from the scene dubiously and was not subject to independent oversight or verification. But many have concerns that the scene was contaminated immediately after the discovery of the bodies; myriad officials, journalists and even bewildered tourists were seen traipsing through the area while evidence was still being gathered. During the trial, the prosecution also claimed Davids stolen phone was discovered smashed at the home of a friend of Zaw Lins. They took the victim away in a pickup truck and the barman just got a mop out and cleaned up the blood, he says. Read about our approach to external linking. The country's prime minister, who had been phoning the national police chief daily for updates on the investigation, said "this should not have happened at all, as it will affect Thailand in the eyes of the international community".  The murders were the first cases of homicide on the island in over eight years. Direct quotations from the trial are unavailable, as the judges did not permit the public to take notes. . Ms Witheridge, from Hemsby in Norfolk, and Mr Miller, from Jersey, were murdered on the popular holiday island on September 15. Human-rights groups expressed serious concerns. However, the event did not materially affect tourism to the island over the following years. Credit: British Foreign Office That's when the killers pounced. Some sources also refer to Wai Phyo as Win Zaw Htun. David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, didn't know each other before they met on holiday in Thailand in September. So sad to hear that young man murdered in Thailand was Jerseyman David Miller. These samples purportedly match those retrieved from Witheridges corpse. Mr Miller's family said they were "grateful" to the Thai king. Because we have learned for generations to take care of visitors. A brand new police station has been built with 40 full-time officers replacing the five previously based here. The two were said to have been backpackers going through the tiny island of Koh Tao. The pairs trial began on July 8, 2015, with the prosecution highlighting the DNA evidence and police findings as their primary strategy. , Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo retracted their statements following a visit from a consular lawyer for Myanmar and said they had made their statements under duress, after they had allegedly been beaten, left naked in a freezing room, and threatened with electrocution and an extrajudicial killing. Photograph: PA. Rights groups have said the pair were used as scapegoats by the . DNA was collected from these three areas and sent to a police forensics lab for analysis. I had no idea, says Jordi Cramer, 21, a waitress from Edmonton, Canada, when TIME speaks to her strolling past the granite-hemmed crime scene. , Although tourist arrivals to Koh Tao dropped in the months immediately following the murders, there was little lasting effect on tourism to the island..  They were both also charged with entering the country illegally, to which Wai Phyo had already confessed. Sean . Foreign nationals were also immediately blamed for the crime, with a police spokesman even claiming,Thais would not do this. Their primary focus lay on migrant workers, with many alleging the authorities tortured them with scalding boiled water during interrogations. But in Thailand, the police perform the entire process. David worked as an intern in the St Helier offices of the Australian mining company Consolidated Minerals. This is the wild west.. Is climate change killing Australian wine? 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.. Millers family also expressed confidence in the Thai judicial process, saying the evidence against the defendants seemed powerful and convincing. The second man, Wai Phyo,[a] was believed to have left the island by boat the previous night. However, according to Rhys Bonney, an immigration adviser to expats in Thailand, even the legality of scuba-diving instructors is an extremely gray area as Thai work permits are specific to particular company premises. By the time dawn broke over Koh Tao, the beach had been . However, the investigators quickly dismissed him as a suspect. Video, The secret mine that hid the Nazis' stolen treasure, commute his murderers' death sentences to life in prison, MasterChef Australia host Jock Zonfrillo dies, Father tells how gunman opened fire on Texas home, Trump says 'great to be home' on visit to Scotland, NFL player's daughter, aged two, drowns in pool, Banana artwork in Seoul museum eaten by visitor, Indian 'killer' elephant relocated to tiger reserve. I'm asking if they wear bikinis in Thailand, will they be safe? Hannah met David Miller 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. , Witheridge and Miller travelled and arrived on the island separately on 25 August. The head of the country's Central Institute of Forensic Science found that the DNA on the hoe did not match the defendants. Sean McAnna, 25, has fled the island of Koh Tao after claiming he knows who was responsible for the murders of Hannah Witheridge and his friend, David Miller. Miller, a year older and from Jersey, also suffered blows to the head and left to drown in the shallow surf. The episode tries to deconstruct the complex case for the listeners as it narrates the incidents chronologically and questions several alleged incompetencies in the murder probe.  Both bodies were found semi-naked; a pile of clothes was found nearby.  However, her clothes were not tested for DNA. Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo know this too well. "Our thoughts are also with the Witheridge family and the tragic loss of their daughter. According to reports, the investigators had allegedly left them unclothed in freezing rooms and threatened to electrocute them.  The defence struggled to find members of the public willing to testify at the trial, as many feared retribution, hence their alibi was not considered convincing by the court. The Daily Telegraph reports that the two were seen leaving a bar at around 1 a.m. Sky News reports that Witheridge had been traveling with three friends. Dabid had also suffered deep lacerations to his skull before drowning in the shallow surf. Officials deny claims of torture and reports that men accused of killing Hannah Witheridge and David Miller withdrew confessions Jamie Doward Sat 11 Oct 2014 07.15 EDT Last modified on Sat 2 Dec . As the investigation . The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found on a beach on Koh Tao in September 2014. He was ultimately arrested a few hours later while hiding on the vessel. According to reports, the bodies were partially clothed, and the officers also located three cigarette butts and a used condom nearby. Lin and Phyo (also known asWin Zaw Htun)were sentenced to death for the murder of Mr Miller and the murder and rape of Ms Witheridge. RIP, Christian May (@christianrmay) September 15, 2014. David Miller, 24. Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth, a seaside town on the English east coast, had been raped and killed by blows to the head. The bodies of Mr Miller and Miss Witheridge were found on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Tao in 2014. 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. According to reports, both men were 22-year-old illegal migrant workers from Rakhine, Myanmar, who worked in the hospitality industry. Two Burmese workers were sentenced to death in 2015,. He added that they would if they are not beautiful., Prayuth soon backtracked on his remarks on travelers, saying, Sometimes I speak too strongly. But virtually his next breath again sought to assign blame: We have to help take care of [our nation], he said, and not let not-good people mingle with us, such as unregistered alien workers., Investigators had already steered their attention to migrant workers, via a friend of the deceased, and the son of a local headman, who were briefly considered as suspects. Hannah metDavid Miller 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.  The defence provided a separate explanation for the events on the night. 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. ITV reports that the suspect may be a friend of either Witheridge or Miller. 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. There was so much he could be doing with his life, and having it cut short is unbelievably cruel. "We hope that these two murderers will now spend a very, very long time in jail where they cannot harm other families and will have time to reflect on the consequences of their acts.". Feuding here is common and vicious. David Miller, 24, from Jersey, was found murdered alongside Hannah . One of his former teachers,Alan Hamel, reminisced, He was a young man of enormous potential and particularly a talented artist. In a statement, Ian and Sue Miller, who have campaigned against the death penalty, said: "We are grateful to His Majesty the King of Thailand for showing his clemency to the murderers of our son David. Hannah Witheridge and David Miller have been named as the two tourists who chopped up by a hoe in Thailand. Miller had scratches on his back and water in his lungs indicating drowning. Ive not been threatened, but Ive too much to lose, he says.  Human Rights Watch said the case was "profoundly disturbing" and called for the verdict to be reviewed in a "transparent and fair appeal process". Hannah Witheridge & David Miller: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know, Copyright 2023 Heavy, Inc. All rights reserved. They stated they were driven by a desire to rape the victim following sexual arousal when they saw the couple kissing on the beach. The crimes brutality amid Koh Taos insular, backpacker charm caused an international sensation and threatened to further weaken a tourist industry already reeling from the military coup of May 22, 2014, which saw hundreds arbitrarily detained and draconian new controls imposed on freedom of speech and assembly. They partied together, with the couple last seen together at a local bar called AC Bar with friends on September 14.  Despite not initially being permitted to assist with the investigation, British police observers including homicide detectives from the Metropolitan Police and a forensics expert were eventually permitted into Thailand to observe the investigation. , The death sentences were commuted to life imprisonment on 14 August 2020 following a royal decree to commemorate King Vajiralongkorn's birthday and "illustrate the king's clemency". Thailands forensics chief, Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand, has said that by not using trained specialists, police contradicted the principles of forensic science.. In September 2014, the 23-year-oldUniversity of East Anglia graduate, who had been studying for a masters degree in speech and language therapy. The two young tourists were killed in the early hours of 15 September, 2014, after which their relatives endured a long wait for justice.  In 2014, the island had a population of around 5,000 locals. Most populous nation: Should India rejoice or panic? , An opinion piece in Bangkok Post wrote that "practically no one believes [Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo] really brutally murdered English tourists", adding "in Thai media of all kinds, the consensus is that Win and Zaw Lin are scapegoats. He was found hiding on the boat later on 2 October. A post-mortem examination showed she had been raped. 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. Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were brutally murdered while staying on Koh Tao. The bodies of Mr Miller and Miss Witheridge were found on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Tao in 2014.  Prayut said that British and Burmese government representatives were "limited to observation" and had to "respect our processes".  The suspects were defended pro bono by two lawyers from the Lawyers Council of Thailand. When the authorities were unable to pin the crime on migrant workers, they turned their attention toward Western tourists related to the victims. The investigators raided Mau Maus home on October 2 and arrested one of the men named Zaw Lin. According to reports, David and Hannah arrived separately on the island with their friends on August 25, 2014. All rights reserved.  The national police chief, Somyot Poompanmoung, denied that torture was involved in the confessions. It will take a bit of time to find loopholes to appeal. Read about our approach to external linking. (Thailand is the worlds third-largest seafood exporter.) There are no official figures for the number of expats who call Thailand home, but it likely runs into the hundreds of thousands.  Media reports speculated that was because the defence was wary of calling on foreign experts fearing it could appear as undermining the Thai justice system, and could bias the judges against their case. British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were killed in September 2014, Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were convicted of the murders in a Thai court and originally sentenced to death, The bodies of Mr Miller and Miss Witheridge were found on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Tao, The secret mine that hid the Nazis' stolen treasure. Naturally, a pall of silence engulfs this clannish, cliquey atoll, owing in no small part to the legal standing of its foreign contingent. Powered by. Koh Tao is very safe, says Mayor Chaiyan. mi.) Thoughts and prayers with his family and friends. The officers also charged Wai with stealing Davids mobile phone. Magazines, Digital They still maintain their innocence, as they did throughout the trial. However, a lawyer for Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo told the BBC that the pair had not admitted their guilt when their death sentences were commuted. Witheridge, 23, from Hemsby, near Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, was raped and beaten to death. Write to Charlie Campbell at email@example.com. However, the defense counsel argued all the evidence against the defendants was circumstantial, and the police had no known eyewitness to the murders.  The protests angered Thailand's prime minister, who believed the demonstrations were a plot "instigated" to hurt the government. He was interrogated and captured while his clothes and motorcycle were seized as evidence. The family of a British backpacker killed in Thailand have welcomed a decision to commute his murderers' death sentences to life in prison. More recently, a court order to allow Dr. Pornthip to review the DNA evidence was rescinded. They were at the bar with around 50 people mostly foreign tourists before they left together after 1:00 am. Their senseless deaths sparked international outrage and raised questions about justice on Koh Tao.  Wai Phyo was also charged with stealing Miller's phone. Most are running guesthouses, eateries and scuba-diving operations or working as diving instructors. Call Us Today! , An autopsy revealed that both victims were hit by a hard object, resulting in head and face wounds. 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". Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Norfolk and David Miller, 24, of Jersey were bludgeoned to death with a wooden hoe as they walked back to their hotel room late at night. In September 2014, Hannah Witheridge and David Miller only met by chance while backpacking on the island, but when their bodies were found together on Sairee Beach, they would become linked forever by a tragic mystery. Then, most stupidly, the two suspects suddenly "admitted" to the crime, after having been found with bruises. Zaw and Wai were each indicted on five charges, including premeditated murder, killing to conceal a criminal offense, rape, illegal entry into Thailand, and staying in the country without permission. A mute Burmese beach cleaner stumbled upon the bodies shortly after dawn the following morning on Sairee Beach, near Hannahs room A5 at Ocean View Bungalows. To be able to work on Koh Tao, illegal Burmese migrants paid a 500-baht ($15) bribe each month, plus another 500 baht if they want to use a motorbike without a Thai driving license. In a wildly controversial move, the police forced the suspects to re-enact the murder in front of the media a move condemned by legal experts as prejudicing a fair hearing. The trial drew wide criticism from the international press and human rights groups. Theres no work permit that allows you to work in 15 different locations [under the sea], he says. Will [tourists] survive in Thailand if they dress in bikinis? he asked Sept. 17.  Jane Taupin, an Australian forensic scientist brought in by the defence, claimed that the timeline of DNA extraction was dubious; a rapid analysis of DNA samples had happened in less than 12 hours, which she said was unusual because "extracting DNA from mixed samples was difficult and time-consuming". Dilleen Hempel Murder: Who Killed Her? According to reports, the police sought his friend, who shared a room with David, in the double homicide, and a nationwide manhunt was launched. , Due to concerns the murders might affect foreign tourism into Thailand, the national authorities sought to expedite the investigation into the murders. Read about our approach to external linking. David worked as an intern in the St Helier offices of the Australian mining company Consolidated Minerals. Some work on fishing boats for years without seeing land, getting passed between trawlers, catching fish, squid and shrimp for American dinner tables. Case 220: Hannah Witheridge & David Miller. "Our thoughts are also with the Witheridge family and the tragic loss of their daughter. Little wonder the conversational staple of many long-term expats is, These are the worst Thais in Thailand.. However, the erstwhile national police chief denied the allegations of torture, although the police refused to cooperate with representatives of Thailands National Human Rights Commission attempting to investigate the serious allegations. Legally, it would seem quite easy to shut these dive shops down., Insecure residency tends to breed compliance. The names of the tourists were first announced in a Sky News tweet. Foreigners die surprisingly often here. Hannah Witheridge and David Miller have been named as the two tourists who chopped up by a hoe in Thailand. I think my lasting memory of him will be his smile, wonderful sense of humor, and ability to put his ideas across with conviction and thoughtfulness. David, then 24, had recently graduated in civil and structural engineering from the University of Leeds and planned onstarting a masters degree. These rocks are no strangers to explosive secrets.
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