Thailand detainee confesses to murder of Britons

DNA tests done on suspects

Britons Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found 
together
dead on a beach on Koh Tao, 
a
popular 
destination
with foreign tourists. Both had suffered 
serious
head injuries. Photographs: PA

Britons Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found together dead on a beach on Koh Tao, a popular destination with foreign tourists. Both had suffered serious head injuries. Photographs: PA

 

One, or possibly two, Burmese migrant workers have confessed to murdering two British backpackers found dead on a Thai island last month, police said.

“The investigation has advanced considerably,” said Lieut Gen Jaktip Chaijinda, Thailand’s deputy national police chief. “Three Burmese workers were detained and we took their DNA for testing. During the investigation, one of them admitted to killing the two foreigners.”

Another senior officer, Maj Gen Kiattipong Khawsamang, said that two of the men detained had confessed to killing Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, while the third denied any involvement. “We are interrogating them. So far, accounts from the two men matched, and they confessed they killed the tourists,” Khawsamang reportedly.

Man seen on CCTV

The paper said Soe was detained when he got off a boat from Koh Tao island to the mainland. The other two men were detained on Koh Tao, it reported.

The bodies of Witheridge, from Great Yarmouth, in eastern England, and Miller, from Jersey, were found on a beach on Koh Tao, popular with young foreign tourists, on September 15th. Both had suffered head injuries, which killed Witheridge, while Miller died from a combination of head injuries and drowning, a postmortem found.

Chaijinda said the man who had confessed was being detained, but had not been arrested. “We still have to wait for DNA test results, which we expect to have in 14 hours from now,” he said.

DNA samples

Somyot Pumpanmuang, Thailand’s national police chief, was reported to be on his way to Surat Thani.

The double murder attracted worldwide coverage and prompted a concentrated, if seemingly chaotic, police investigation. Thailand’s economy is heavily reliant on tourism and there were fears that the killings could scare foreigners away, especially if the case remained unsolved.

Initial efforts focused on Burmese migrant workers, of whom there are many in Thailand. Two British brothers travelling with Miller were also questioned, but eliminated as suspects.

Later, police said they believed the crime might have been motivated by sexual jealousy and were looking into reports that Witheridge and Miller had been in a confrontation in a bar with a Thai man before they were killed.

Chaijinda had only just been appointed to head the murder inquiry before Thursday’s announcement, following concerns that more than two weeks had gone without a breakthrough in the case. – (Guardian Service)