2 Oct 2014

Burmese man ‘confesses’ to murder of two Brits in Thailand

A Burmese man confesses to the murders of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in Thailand, police say.

British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller (police handout)

The bodies of Hannah, 23, and David, 24, were found on 15 September with severe head wounds near where they were staying on the southern island of Koh Tao, known for its coral reefs and diving.

The island has a large community of migrant workers from neighbouring Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Three Burmese workers were detained – during the investigation one of them admitted to killing the two foreigners. Deputy police chief Jaktip Chaijinda

“The investigation has advanced considerably,” deputy national police chief Lieutenant General Jaktip Chaijinda said.

“Three Burmese workers were detained and we took their DNA for testing. During the investigation one of them admitted to killing the two foreigners,” he said.

Mr Jaktip said the man who had confessed was being detained but had not been arrested: “We still have to wait for DNA tests results which we expect to have in 14 hours from now in order to confirm this.”

‘Tourism fears’

Thai authorities have warned that the killings would scare off tourists and government leaders have been urging police to solve the case quickly. The island of Koh Tao is a sleepy, low-key holiday destination in the gulf of Thailand. A favourite of divers and sun-seekers. Crime of any kind on the island is rare.

Both Britons were staying at the same hotel, called Ocean View Bungalows, but police do not believe they travelled to the island together. The female was travelling in a party of four, while the male was accompanied by two other men.

It is thought that both groups had been eating, drinking and dancing on the island in the hours before their death.

The tourist industry accounts for 10 percent of Thailand’s economy and it has yet to recover from a slump in visitors during months of sometimes bloody protests on the streets of Bangkok that preceded a military coup in May.

It has been reported that Thai ministers are planning to institute a policy in which officials will take tourists who are drunk back to their rooms on Koh Tao to protect them from crime.