Three ‘attackers’ involved in Thai island murders, police say
Thai police believe at least three “attackers” were involved in the vicious murders of two British backpackers whose semi-naked bodies were found on a tourist island on Monday.
David Miller and Hannah Witheridge, who had met on Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, are thought to have been murdered at around 4.30am after leaving a beachside bar on the island together.Evidence gathered from witnesses and the crime scene, including DNA traces found on cigarette butts left near the bodies, now suggests the involvement of more than two people, police say.
“From the available evidence, we believe that there were more than two attackers,” Police Lieutenant General Panya Mamen was quoted as saying by Thailand’s The Nation newspaper on Friday.The parents of 23-year-old Ms Witheridge, a speech therapist from Great Yarmouth, arrived in Bangkok on Thursday to accompany investigations. It is not clear if relations of Mr Miller, a 24-year-old University of Leeds engineering graduate, will also travel to Thailand.
Police have been accused of bungling initial investigations after failing to properly seal off the stretch of beach where the murders took place and apparently taking days to conduct a thorough forensic examination of the crime scene and the surrounding area, including the victims’ rooms. Bloodied bandages that had been left outside Mr Miller’s hotel room, which was just a few metres from the crime scene, were only examined and removed by police on Wednesday having spent more than 48 hours exposed to the elements in a dustbin.
On Wednesday police on Koh Tao claimed an arrest was imminent and said they had identified a British man as their prime suspect. However, those hopes came to nothing and police now appear to have no firm suspects.
Two British friends of Mr Miller’s were stopped from leaving the country and questioned in Bangkok but they were allowed to return to the UK on Thursday after being ruled out.
Police General Jarumporn Suramanee, Thailand’s assistant national police chief, denied his officers had “messed up”.
Forensic teams had performed a thorough examination of the crime scene on the day of the murder, he claimed during a visit to Koh Tao. “We were here from the first day.”
The Metropolitan Police’s help in solving the case would be “welcome”, the police chief added.
In the early hours of Friday morning a reconstruction of the crime was held on Koh Tao’s Sairee beach, where the victims’ spent their final hours.
Police have also been questioning and taking DNA samples from a number of Burmese workers on the island, sparking anger among many members of Koh Tao’s large expat community.
Many believe investigators are unfairly targetting foreigners, and particularly the Burmese, and are not properly investigating potential Thai suspects.
“It’s so absurd. It’s horrific,” one European business owner said. “If something happens it is never the Thais. They always blame the Burmese or the Westerners.”
Police Lieutenant General Panya Mamen told The Nation: “We still believe we will bring the attackers to justice.”
“Police have collected a lot of evidence and interviewed many people, and this should help us find the culprits. There is a lot of evidential information that we cannot reveal to the media right now,” he added.