David Miller and Hannah Witheridge were killed while they were travelling in Thailand. Picture: Facebook
David Miller and Hannah Witheridge were killed while they were travelling in Thailand. Picture: Facebook

Backpacker killers to be executed

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Two men found guilty of murdering a pair of British backpackers in Thailand will be executed after their appeals were thrown out by the courts.

The bodies of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were found on a beach on the popular tourist island of Koh Tao in September 2014.

According to The Sun, the popular holiday spot has been dubbed "death island" after a string of tourists died in shocking circumstances while holidaying there.

 

Hannah Witheridge was found murdered on island of Koh Tao, Thailand, in September 2014. Picture: EPA
Hannah Witheridge was found murdered on island of Koh Tao, Thailand, in September 2014. Picture: EPA

 

David Miller was just 24 when he died. Picture: Facebook
David Miller was just 24 when he died. Picture: Facebook

Witheridge, 23, had been raped and bludgeoned to death while Miller, 24, suffered shocking head injuries, according to police.

Burmese migrant workers Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, also known as Win Zaw Htun, were found guilty of the murders and sentenced to death in December 2015.

However, their supporters had claimed the pair had been framed and the evidence mishandled.

Witheridge and Miller met on Koh Tao while staying at the same hotel in Thailand.

The pair were killed with a wooden hoe as they walked back to their hotel rooms late at night on a beach.

 

Zaw Lin (R) and Wai Phyo (L) will be executed after a last-ditch appeal failed. Picture: EPA
Zaw Lin (R) and Wai Phyo (L) will be executed after a last-ditch appeal failed. Picture: EPA

Lin and Phyo initially confessed to the killings but then retracted their statements saying they were tortured.

However, the three judges who handed down the original guilty verdicts and death penalties concluded the prosecution proved its case with forensic evidence that met "international standards" linking the men to the murders.

The trial came following accusations Lin and Phyo were being used as scapegoats by desperate investigators.

 

Hannah Witheridge (left) and David Miller (second right) on the evening the two were murdered on the Thai island of Koh Tao. Picture: Supplied
Hannah Witheridge (left) and David Miller (second right) on the evening the two were murdered on the Thai island of Koh Tao. Picture: Supplied

The pair - who now face death by lethal injection - were even forced to re-enact the murders after their apparent confessions.

Bizarre pictures showed them handcuffed wearing bicycle helmets surrounded by police as they reconstructed the attack on Sairee beach.

The trial of the two Burmese migrant workers was also plagued by accusations of human rights abuses.

International legal and forensic scientists said in 2016 that the DNA investigation by the Thai Police Forensics Laboratory was incompetent with no chain of evidence.

 

Bizarre pictures showed the two killers in helmets after they re-enacted the crime with police. Picture: Twitter
Bizarre pictures showed the two killers in helmets after they re-enacted the crime with police. Picture: Twitter

The legal team defending the two men also said the evidence collected by police was unreliable and not in accordance with internationally accepted standards.

"The death penalty sentence against the two accused and their conviction should be reversed and quashed," Andy Hall, an adviser to the two men's legal team, said ahead of their appeal.

"DNA and forensics evidence relied on to convict Zaw Law and Wai Phyo, and sentence them to death in the Koh Tao murder case was fundamentally flawed and unreliable in terms of international standards."

The murders on Koh Tao, a laid-back haven for divers, sullied Thailand's image in the tourism industry, which accounts for about 10 per cent of the country's economy.

 

Hannah Witheridge (left) with a friend was brutally murdered in Thailand. Picture: Facebook
Hannah Witheridge (left) with a friend was brutally murdered in Thailand. Picture: Facebook

This story was originally published in The Sun and is reprinted with permission.


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