Holiday Britons shot dead in Thailand

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The Independent Online

Two British tourists were murdered in western Thailand today by a local man with whom they had quarrelled, police said.

A British woman killed in Thailand was mown down by a car and dragged for 20 yards after trying to stop a gunman - believed to be a policeman - who shot her boyfriend dead, it was revealed today.

Vanessa Arscott, 24, who was travelling with Adam Lloyd in the popular tourist destination of Kanchanaburi, was then shot dead too.

The couple were said to have met their killer earlier in a riverside restaurant when he got involved in a row which started after Mr Lloyd, 25, got upset by the way other customers were looking at Ms Arscott.

A police sergeant is suspected of being the gunman.

An arrest warrant was issued for Sergeant Somchai Visetsingha, whose private car was found with bloodstains, police Colonel Vej Somboon said.

He said witnesses saw the victims arguing with Somchai at the restaurant at around 2am.

The colonel said Somchai has been missing since the shooting.

"We hope to get him soon. The witnesses and evidence show that he is the man who gunned down the British tourists," he said.

Mr Lloyd's mother Linda, who described her son as "a lovely lad", revealed that he had been due to fly home last week but was unable to get a flight.

Mrs Lloyd, who runs the Buckingham Lodge Hotel in Torquay, Devon, with her husband Brian, said: "He and Vanessa had been travelling together for two months. It was something he always wanted to do."

A family friend said Ms Arscott's family, from Ashburton in Devon, were "distraught".

A neighbour, Elizabeth Tucker, said today that Ms Arscott's death was "just shocking".

"I'm absolutely devastated, she was such a lovely girl.

"I have seen her grow up. It is just shattering to think she is not here any longer.

"She really was a lovely girl, a beautiful dresser."

Ms Arscott's parents have lived in a detached house in the countryside outside Ashburton on the edge of Dartmoor for around 20 years.

Neighbours said Mr Arscott worked for a pharmaceutical company and his wife Joyce worked as a hairdresser.

The couple were killed yesterday evening - the early hours of this morning in Thailand.

A translator for the tourist police in Kanchanaburi said they had been dining at the F&F restaurant when the argument broke out.

She said: "On the way back to their guest house after they left the restaurant, the suspect drove the car and shot Mr Lloyd three times in his body, his head and his arm.

"After that, the woman tried to stop the car and the car crashed into her and dragged her 20 metres along the road.

"Then he shot her twice, in the head and the body."

A warrant has been issued for the suspect's arrest, she added.

The couple were taken to the Phahol Polpayuhasena hospital but were pronounced dead.

Mr Lloyd was given cardiopulmonary resuscitation twice, the translator said.

Thai police said the pair got into a noisy argument at the restaurant and the man who shot them had tried to mediate before getting involved in the row himself.

Lieutenant Colonel Chavalit Peakeaw said: "The male tourist was apparently upset by the way other people looked at his girlfriend and his jealousy got out of control."

Mr Lloyd had been living with his family before he went away.

Mrs Lloyd said: "He had been away since July and was due home on Saturday.

"He was due to come home last week, but could not get a flight."

His three brothers were on their way to Torquay.

Ms Arscott's mother Joyce was given the news first, but there was a delay in contacting her father Graham because he was travelling.

The province of Kanchanaburi, 70 miles west of Bangkok, has several resorts and is the site of the Second World War's infamous bridge over the River Kwai, where the Japanese built a railway using prisoners of war as slave labour.