Thailand beach murders: Both Hannah Witheridge and David Miller suffered severe head wounds

Mr Miller died by drowning in the ocean

Andrew Buncombe
Wednesday 17 September 2014 15:33 BST
David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23
David Miller, 24, and Hannah Witheridge, 23

Forensic tests carried out on two British tourists murdered in Thailand have found that the woman died from severe head wounds, while the man had suffered head injuries and then drowned in the ocean - perhaps after trying to fight off his attacker

As officers on the island of Koh Tao said they were questioning two British men - believed to be brothers – as part of their inquiry, and had taken a DNA samples from one of them, officials in Bangkok announced the preliminary results of a postmortem examinations carried out on 23-year-old Hannah Witheridge and 24-year-old David Miller.

Maj Gen Pornchai Suteerakune, Thailand’s chief police forensics officer, told reporters that in addition to the severe wounds found on Mr Miller’s head, the examination had found an injury on his hand, indicating that a struggle may have taken place, according to the Associated Press.

Tests were also being carried out on a blonde hair found in Ms Witheridge’s hand, and on traces of semen that were also discovered, said the senior officer. He said believed the results of the tests would be announced within 24 hours.

“The results are expected within 24 hours so everything will become clear tomorrow,” he said, according to the AFP news agency. “The female victim suffered cuts to her head... while the male was beaten on the head... but water found in his lungs suggests he may have died from drowning.”

Earlier it was reported that police involved in the investigation on the southern island of Koh Tao have questioned two British men, at least one of who is believed to have shared a room with Mr Miller.

The men, who were allowed to leave the island on Tuesday after speaking to police, returned at the request of officers after being stopped at Bangkok airport, according to the BBC.

Police have said there are a number of possible suspects for the killing of Ms Witheridge and Mr Miller, whose battered bodies were found in the early hours of Monday morning.

Dozens of officers have been scouring Koh Tao, speaking to locals, foreign visitors and migrant workers form Burma. At least six migrant workers were questioned and later released as part of the inquiry.

Read more:
Simon Calder: The dark streak beneath island paradise

The partly naked bodies of the two tourists were found less than 100 metres from the location of where the beach party had been held on Sunday night. Police said a blood-stained hoe was found near the bodies and officers suspect it was the murder weapon.

Mr Miller, from Jersey, and Ms Witheridge, from Great Yarmouth, had travelled to the island separately. Ms Witheridge, who was doing post-graduate work at the the University of Essex in Colchester, was travelling with three female friends and had only arrived on Koh Tao, or Turtle Island, three days before the incident. Both she and Mr Miller were staying at the Ocean View Bungalows.

On Tuesday, the families of the Britons paid tribute in statements issued through the British government. The family of Ms Witheridge, whose Facebook page suggested she had a keen interest in horses, described her as a “a beautiful, intelligent, loving young woman who poured joy into the lives of all who knew her”.

They added: “She was selfless and caring and made each and every day that little bit more wonderful.”

David was an artist by temperament, so talented,” said his family. “He had a creative eye that he carried with him through life and in his degree.”

Meanwhile, the Thai general who seized power in a coup earlier this year, said he was concerned the crime could affect the country’s image. Gen Prayuth Chan-ocha, who now styles himself Prime Minister after he was appointed by a hand-picked parliament, appeared to question whether tourists could be safe if they chose to wear bikinis.

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

“There are always problems with tourist safety. They think our country is beautiful and is safe so they can do whatever they want, they can wear bikinis and walk everywhere," he told officials. “Can they be safe in bikinis?”

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in