Reveller dies after shooting at New Year party on Thai beach

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The Independent Online

A British holidaymaker was shot dead in Thailand hours after welcoming in the New Year with friends at a beach party.

Local media on the party island of Koh Phangan said Stephen Ashton, 22, was caught in the crossfire between two groups of Thai youths.

Mr Ashton, from south London, was celebrating at Haad Rin, a stretch of beach famous for its "full moon" parties. Shortly after 3am an argument broke out between a group of locals at one of the many beachside bars that line that stretch of shore. As one of the men walked away from the bar he reportedly pulled out a gun and began firing into the crowd, hitting Mr Ashton in the side of the chest.

He was taken to hospital but could not be revived. A nurse told i that a British tourist was admitted at 4.10am. "Doctors spent 40 minutes trying to resuscitate him but there was nothing they could do."

According to the Bangkok Post, police gathered a search party to look for the gunman and eventually arrested a 26-year-old man in possession of a handmade weapon.

Last night neighbour Dawn Mason, 48, described Mr Ashton as a "very likeable young man". His family moved to the upmarket area of Purley, south London, about three years ago, she said. Mr Ashton's mother, Diane, is flying back to the UK from a skiing trip after hearing of her son's death.

Koh Phangan, a South East Asia party capital, has a reputation for violent crime. The Foreign Office warns that revellers are particularly vulnerable at full-moon parties.