Thai beach killings: Forensic expert claims DNA found on alleged murder weapon of two Britons in Koh Tao does not match two suspects

Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were killed in Thailand in September 2014

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The Independent Online

DNA evidence collected from the weapon allegedly used to kill two British backpackers in Thailand does not match samples from the two men currently standing trial for their murder, a forensic expert has claimed in court.

Britons Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were brutally killed on Sairee beach last year in September. The case shocked the world, drawing international attention.

Forensic expert Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand told Koh Samui’s court although her team had found two men’s DNA on the alleged murder weapon, a garden hoe, it did not match that of Burmese workers Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, currently standing trial for murder.

Hannah Witheridge and David Miller, who were murdered on a beach in Thailand in September 2014

She also criticised police officers’ failure to analyse blood found at the crime scene.  

It is the latest inconsistency in a case criticised for its bungled handling.

During a three-month trial, officers have been accused of intimidation, abuse of witnesses and improperly collecting evidence from the scene. They already testified they had failed to take DNA samples from the alleged murder weapon, instead relying on fingerprints.

They deny any wrong-doing.

The prosecution has argued that DNA evidence is central to its case, but the Thai court turned down requests from defence lawyers for the evidence to be independently tested.

But Dr Rojanasunand, who heads the country’s Forensic Institute, was able to obtain items recovered from the scene – including the garden hoe, a shoe and a plastic bag – for the lawyers of the two Burmese men.

The forensics expert also queried officers’ decision to move Ms Witheridge’s body from where she was killed – potentially removing vital evidence.

A Thai villager lays flowers during a memorial service for two murdered British tourists at the crime scene on a beach of Koh Tao resort island

The Jersey backpacker’s body was found several metres from Mr Miller. Both victims suffered severe head wounds and officers alleged in court there was evidence Ms Witheridge had been raped.

Mr Lin and Mr Phyo, both 22 years old, deny the charges.