Murdered backpacker's father visits scene of killing

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The father of the British backpacker murdered in Thailand laid a wreath on the beach where she was found yesterday before making a heartfelt plea for someone to turn in her killer.

Katherine Horton's body was found in the sea off the Thai island of Koh Samui on Monday. The 21-year-old university student had been beaten with a blunt object and dragged into the water. Yesterday her father, Ian Horton, and brother Christopher were in Thailand to bring her body home to Britain with "dignity" and to appeal for help in finding the murderer.

"My words cannot express how I feel. Only a parent who has lost a child can know," said Mr Horton.

Accompanied by Ms Horton's friend and travelling companion Ruth Adams, he added: "The perpetrator is too cowardly to offer themselves to justice in Thailand, but there is a person here that knows... A person that can assist the police. Someone that can maybe save another life. I urge that person to come forward to speak out.

"Katherine was full of confidence and felt immune to the dangers of this world as we have all felt when we were young adults. Tragically, her faith in her fellow man let her down and she has been taken from us forever."

He is hoping to bring her body back this week to the UK where Katherine's mother, Elizabeth, is being comforted by another brother, Richard.

Ms Horton, from Cardiff, was still wearing an evening dress when she was found by a jet skier in the sea near Lamai beach, days after arriving on the island for a short holiday.

The night before, Ms Adams had gone off to sleep while Ms Horton had wandered off to the beach to wish her family a happy new year. Her mother reportedly heard a scream before the telephone line went dead.

A 23-year-old holidaymaker who had befriended the girls said he had had to break the news to Ms Adams. Callum Macdonald, an IT consultant from Edinburgh, wrote on a website to friends that police asked him to confirm it was Ms Horton from photographs of the body.

"I couldn't believe it. I broke the news to Ruth as gently as I could. She was utterly devastated. Ruth called her parents and I called Kath's brother in England to break the news to the family.

"It was the hardest phone call I've ever had to make. I called a man on the other side of the world and told him his sister had died in Thailand," he said.

Yesterday it was reported a DNA sample had been recovered from the body, and that local and foreign men were being tested as the hunt for the killers intensified.

"We hope to get the killer very soon," said Lieutenant Colonel Thanongsak Aksornsom of the Koh Samui police station.

He said there was no evidence of rape as had earlier been speculated and it seemed a single person had killed Ms Horton. Despite interviewing a dozen men, no arrest warrant had been issued. "The national and local police are launching an all-out effort to... get the killer as soon as possible," said Major Warawej Winitnetayanonda, chief of Surat Thani provincial police.

A spokesman for South Wales Police said a second post-mortem examination would be conducted in Britain as part of a separate inquiry on behalf of the Cardiff coroner.

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