Thai police quiz Briton after backpacker murder

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The Independent Online

A Briton has been arrested by Thai police in connection with the murder of a Welsh backpacker found raped and strangled in a hostel.

A Briton has been arrested by Thai police in connection with the murder of a Welsh backpacker found raped and strangled in a hostel.

The man was arrested late last night and is being questioned by police over the murder of 23-year-old Liverpool University graduate Kirsty Jones.

The body of Ms Jones, from Brecon, south Wales, was found yesterday morning lying face down in her room, with a piece of cloth wrapped around her neck.

Thai police said they believed the man had been a fellow guest at the Aree hostel 422 miles north of Bangkok in Chiang Mai. He is being held at the main city police station in the hill resort.

Ms Jones's parents, Sue and Glyn, are expected to fly back to Britain today from Spain, where they were holidaying when they learned of the news of their daughter's death.

She had booked in alone at the guest house in Chiang Mai, one of the country's least expensive areas and a magnet for young Western holiday-makers. Her body was discovered by fellow guests and the manager. They had become suspicious when she failed to come out of her room.

Lieutenant Colonel Suvit Khunprasert, of the Thai police, said guests had heard the sound of a struggle, a man shouting and swearing and a scream from Ms Jones's room the previous night. But they failed to act because, they said, they thought it may have been a "lovers' quarrel".

Ms Jones had spent part of the evening before her death with another British woman, 25-year-old Sarah Wiggett, of Huntingdon in Cambridgeshire.

"We were out on the town last night; I'm staying at a different guesthouse to Kirsty so we parted ways at the end of the night," Ms Wiggett, a student at Canterbury University, said.

"I found out what happened at 6.30 tonight [yesterday]. I only met her last week. She was a really nice, fun girl. I think she had a round-the-world ticket and her friend was flying out in a couple of weeks to join her in Bangkok. I don't think she had a boyfriend."

Police have been told by another guest, an Italian woman, that Ms Jones had struck up a friendship with a man staying at the resort. She told police that Ms Jones had gone shopping with him and went for drinks during the day and part of the evening of Wednesday, the day the screams were heard at the guest house.

Thailand has always been a favourite destination for backpackers, made even more popular by the film The Beach. But it can also be dangerous; this year alone, three British tourists have been killed and 22 seriously injured.

In June, 18 Britons were among 166 passengers rescued from a blazing ferry minutes before it sank. A student nurse, Andrea Taylor, 20, was gored to death by a performing elephant at an animal park near Pattaya in April. Another tourist died of legionnaire's disease in May.

In March, George Fletcher was found burnt to death behind a temple in Pattaya. The same month, Peter Livermore, 42, survived after a bogus taxi driver shot him three times during an attempted robbery.