Thai murder suspect seeks deal from police colleagues

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The Independent Online

The policeman suspected of murdering two English backpackers in the Thai resort town of Kanchanaburi on Thursday contacted colleagues yesterday in the hope of brokering some kind of deal,

The policeman suspected of murdering two English backpackers in the Thai resort town of Kanchanaburi on Thursday contacted colleagues yesterday in the hope of brokering some kind of deal,

Somchai Visetsingha, who is alleged to have shot Adam Lloyd, 25, from Torquay, and Vanessa Arscott, 23, from Ashburton, Devon, disappeared soon after the British tourists were gunned down in the street in the town made famous by The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Police Colonel Wed Somboon, of Kanchanaburi police, who is leading the investigation, said the suspect had offered to give himself up on condition that he was offered bail, but that condition had been denied.

At a press conference at Kanchanburi police station, next to the Kwai river, Colonel Somboon said there were six witnesses who admitted they knew what happened but they had refused to give evidence. "This is because the suspect is a policeman and they are afraid of retaliation because they all live near by," he added.

He said Sergeant Visetsingh had been spotted in the centre of Kanchanaburi at 7am on Thursday, three hours after the shooting, opposite the River Kwai Hotel. "We have 100 police officers out there looking for him. We sent a group to scour an area near his home in Thamok, five kilometres from Kanchanaburi, but we found only his sister-in-law. He has disappeared with his wife but it will not be long before we find him," Colonel Somboon said.

"There have been differing accounts of what happened early on Thursday morning. I do not suppose we will get at the truth until we have him under lock and key. Normally, Somchai is a gentle man".

Colonel Somboon denied reports in the Thai press from Somchai's father, Sunthorn, that Ms Arscott had a liaison with the officer on the night before the killings. "We have no knowledge of this."

In this provincial town near the Burmese border, where tourists take boat trips beneath a rebuilt railway bridge made famous by David Lean's 1957 film, people were struggling to understand the circumstances of the double shooting at 3:50am on Thursday.

The couple, who were due to fly home this weekend, were reportedly shot down in the street after a violent altercation at a nearby restaurant. Witnesses recalled seeing the couple arguing with the suspect; Mr Lloyd is understood to have struck the off-duty police officer. The suspect is alleged to have shot Mr Lloyd three times before running over Ms Arscott, dragging her under his car for 200 metres, and then shooting her.

At the Snooker Bar - where Mr Lloyd and Ms Arscott spent some time - Holly and Richard, rather nervous-looking school leavers from north London on their first week of a gap year backpacking around Asia, said: "We are planning on leaving tomorrow. It could so easily have been us."

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