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Stained trousers found in the luggage of murder victim David Miller

Koh Tao Tourist Fought Back Before Being Killed, Forensic Tests Show

Wednesday, September 17, 2014
BANGKOK: Murdered British tourist David Miller struggled violently with his attacker or attackers in the sea on a scenic Thai resort island to protect his fellow victim Hannah Witheridge, forensic tests indicate.

Mr Miller, 24, had water in his lungs when he was bludgeoned to death with a hoe on Koh Tao in the Gulf of Thailand, according to a forensic report leaked to the Thai newspaper Matichon.

Tests indicate that Ms Witheridge had sexual relations before she was also hacked to death but there was no sign of rape.

They also point to her putting up a fight before being killed with the same hoe which was found near the bodies.

Thai police are questioning Mr Miller's travelling companion and roommate on the island who has been named by Thai media as Christopher Alan Ware.

Mr Ware was asked by police not to board a flight he had booked to London on Wednesday but has not been formally named as a suspect.

The murders prompted Thailand's military junta leader and prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha to warn tourists about travel safety in the country popular with Australian tourists.

Ms Witheridge and Mr Miller had attended a beach party before they were bludgeoned with a hoe and their near-naked bodies found shortly after dawn on Monday in a rocky cove.

Telling police to find the killer or killers swiftly, General Prayuth said ''We have to look into the behavior of the other party too, because this kind of incident should not happen to anybody and it has affected our image.''

''Local people must tell tourists when the safe times are to be outside, we have to help them understand,'' he said.

''In their countries (foreigners) can travel wherever they want, so they thought it is safe, but in our country, there are still problems . . . there are different types of people, so they have to be careful.''

Despite the imposition of martial law across the country following a coup in May, all-night parties on beaches like Koh Tao and neighboring Koh Phangan have seen rapes, robberies, drug arrests and shakedowns, according to consular staff of foreign embassies in Bangkok.

Many of the crimes are not reported to police.

Larry Cunningham, Australia's recently retired honorary consul based in Phuket, has said that Australian parents would be shocked to know how Thai criminals target young Australians and other foreigners at parties like those on Koh Phangan, where each full moon up to 30,000 ravers cram into a one kilometre of beach.

''They are some of the worst criminals in Thailand . . . rapists, murderers and thieves and some are corrupt police,'' he said.
''These are dangerous, dangerous places.''

General Prayuth made the comments despite a 10 percent fall in tourist arrivals in the country where tourism accounts for 10 percent of the economy.

Martial law has kept many visitors away as they are unable to buy travel insurance for destinations where martial law is in place.
General Prayuth said there are no plans to lift the law.

Since ousting Thailand's democratically-elected government following months of political unrest, the junta has moved to crackdown on prostitution, sleaze, drug taking and police extortion in resort areas.

On Phuket, an island where up to 20,000 Australians holiday each month, armed soldiers have supervised the removal of illegal beach structures, including restaurants, and targeted mafia-type gangs operating rip-off taxis and tourist scams.

Regional Surat Thani governor Chatpong Chatphum said the Koh Tao murders had dealt a serious blow to tourism. He said more security cameras would be installed on beaches.

Photographs of the bodies have been circulating on the internet.

Mr Miller, a civil engineering student at Leeds University, had met Ms Witheridge, aged 23, while both were staying at the island's Ocean View Bungalows.

Fairfax Media


Comments have been disabled for this article.


I can wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Cunningham: I went to write about the Phangan Full Moon party a couple or years ago and couldn't believe the locals' attitude towards foreigners - they are there to be fleeced, drugged, raped, and more. IMHO Koh Phangan needs to be busted wide open. It's horrific.

Posted by Sam Wilko on September 17, 2014 21:00

Editor Comment:

If General Prayuth is deeply concerned about moral standards and the safety of young tourists, perhaps it's time to close down the Full Moon party on Phangan. Take a stand, General, against drugs and bad behavior.



Posted by farang888 on September 17, 2014 21:40

Editor Comment:

farang888, you will have to persuade me that your figures are accurate and explain why the countries you mention have investigated more thoroughly than you have, and have not concluded there is a problem. Scaremongers are not welcome.


I actually never did to Koh Phangan at the time of Full Moon parties:

initially, it was not a priority as parties back home in Europe are as good or better, so you don't come to TH for such kind of partying, but for other things, like beaches, food and spa;

then crowds there became much larger, accidents with overcrowded boats even more often, accommodation options still inadequate,

then the crowds becomes huge - if the number what is reported - 30,000 is correct, so such number of people, most being under influence, alone, creates abnormal level of risk, giving generally lax security situation in TH at such events.

And, yes - then you hear or read about preying locals - but even more:
the expat crowd on Koh Phangan itself is probably of highest concentration of (would-be)criminals, adults bullies with a brain of kid, substance abusers and other pleasant people - who, on top, continuously quarrelling between themselves.
And many more other stories.

I agree with Ed, that Full Moon parties in the format as they are should be shut down now.

In future the event of similar format can be reinvented with proper design of the public event and some regulation, and, yes, with an abolition of feature being an open marketplace for the drugs.

Posted by Sue on September 17, 2014 22:11


Keep all islands in Thailand peacefully. Stop having crazy moon parties. It's getting worse every time.

Posted by Anonymous on September 17, 2014 22:34


I am not scaremongering Ed, just stating sources, with all due respect:
"More Brits Dying In Thailand: Total Deaths Jump By 31 Percent
By Alan Morison
Thursday, July 18, 2013
PHUKET: British officials have faced a startling rise in the number of deaths and hospitalisations of British citizens in Thailand, newly-released figures show.
Deaths jumped from 296 in 2011-2012 to 389 in the year ending April 1 this year. Hospitalisations rose from 217 to 285 in the same period, the official statistics show.
The increase in both is a sharp rise of 31 percent" Source:
"Over 800,000 British nationals visit Thailand every year. Most visits are trouble-free.." source: September 15, 2014
Lets round it up to 900,000 British visiting Thailand Divided by 389 ( deaths of British nationals, as per your report from 2013 ) = ( one in ) 2,314
Check? 2313.62 x 389 = 899,998.18
The Australian source will follow.

Posted by farang888 on September 18, 2014 02:31

Editor Comment:

PW talked to British embassy officials who explained the causes. If you publish raw data designed to frightened readers without talking to people who monitor the figures and can explain the reasons, you're scaremongering.


QUOTE: "Figures reveal the south-east Asian Kingdom is the deadliest destination in the world for Australians. The 111 Australians who died in 2012 in Thailand accounted for one in eight of the 791 Australian deaths on foreign soil. Sadly, "many were the result of accident or misadventure, and were avoidable," Australian Department of Foreign Affairs spokesman Simon Merrifield said. "An Australian dies in Thailand less than every four days on average, and hundreds more require consular help." SOURCE: "Thailand is the deadliest destination for Australians." February 1, 2013. Retrieved from

Posted by farang888 on September 18, 2014 02:37

Editor Comment:

Yes, it's a regular newspaper beatup. Bali is another place that Australians enjoy going to die. As I said, farang888, talk to the experts. Behave responsibly, do some first-person research. There's a rational explanation for everything.


Everyone always looks away when they know the drugs at Koh Phangan is famous.
Even after the "Big Trouble in Little Thailand" showed how bad it was, and that was an edited TV show.

Too many people make money on the bad habits of people.
I agree with you, that it should be stopped.
The law is the law, be it right or wrong in someone's eyes. It has to be obeyed.

Posted by Tbs on September 18, 2014 02:39


Ed- The statistics provided are backed up with sources, but I understand that statistics may be mis-leading.

Simple math ( 900,000 tourists divided by 389 fatalities ) says about 1 in 2,400 Brits will die in Thailand annually. It does not differentiate between types of fatality.

"There are three kinds of lies: Lies, damn lies and statistics." Mark Twain (American Humorist, 1835- 1910 )

This Quote infers I am not fear- mongering, and the inference would be correct.

Posted by farang888 on September 18, 2014 04:14

Editor Comment:

To raise statistics about foreign deaths in Thailand the context of a rare brutal double-murder - the kind that seems to happen on a daily basis in the US - seems unfair and unhelpful. Being a holiday destination, some people may imagine Thailand to be free from such calamities. Of course it's not. But many foreigners bring serious issues to Thailand with them. A thorough, scientifically researched analysis of 'Deaths in Thailand' would be useful. A tipping point might come one day on road safety, for example, when scores die in a tourist bus crash. Sadly, the murders of two young holidaymakers - possibly by one of their own countrymen - will probably not change authorities' tourist safety attitudes because nothing could have been done to prevent it.


OK, Alan you have now gone too far. You deride Farang888 for "Scaremongering" and not providing references to research to back up his statements. Well what's with you and your reference "rare brutal double-murder - the kind that seems to happen on a daily basis in the US". Now who is scaremongering and not providing back-up research data?

Are you going to hide behind your words "seems to happen"? If so, all can start hiding comment verifications behind the word "seems" as well. Maybe you should take note from your own words and not make statements that "seem unfair and unhelpful".

Sure there are such events in the US and are highly reported in every country with an intrusive media looking only for ratings, adverts or self aggrandizement. Woops insert "seems to be" before those last two phrase.

Regardless, what would the numbers for Thailand be if the population and numbers of tourist were comparable to the US. The US population is 5+ times that of Thailand (easily verified by all) and I would guess there are 5+ times as many tourist. (Does "guess" work as well as "seems").

In "my opinion" you should live by your own rules.

Posted by Dkin on September 18, 2014 08:56

Editor Comment:

The US is a developed country where guns are freely available. Thailand is an developing country where guns are freely available. Comparisons are always going to be inexact between developed and developing countries. But given their respective levels of development, which is the more shocking place for crime? To blame the media is what people who struggle for logical explanations almost always do. I would no more ''scare'' people about the US than ''scare'' people about Thailand. But I am keen to show how silly it is to try. And that, I think, is exactly the opposite to your limited view of the ''media.''


A lot of criminal types come to Thailand and other Asian countries and its not unusual to here of crimes committed by them on a regular basis including murder.

Posted by peter Allen on September 18, 2014 09:05

Editor Comment:

Indeed. Most recent murders of expats on Phuket have been committed by other expats.


First I didn't blame the media. I was giving you a possible out for "seems to happen daily" statement.

Second you say you wouldn't scare people about the US but you are the one making the unfounded statement "seems to happen on a daily basis in the US".

Third, how can you fairly extrapolate one statement to surmise that I have a limited view of the media. You don't know me and you can not take one statement out of context and establish a persons overall view of anything. If you can, then I can take your statement and surmise that you think that all things bad come from the US.

Finally, and most importantly you didn't even address your unfounded statement regarding the US and what "seems unfair and unhelpful".

Posted by Dkin on September 18, 2014 10:01

Editor Comment:

I have no intention of arguing with you, Dkin. Your opinion is yours and yours alone, and in the context of the issue, your misrepresentation of my intentions, my comment and the facts is enough to allow less belligerent readers to draw their own conclusions.


Ed, now turning on farang888, the one who, up til now, hero worshipped you. You must now be running out of supporters, a lonely man on an island, facing a not so nice prison cell, I hope you have a few friends to bring food and clothing.

Posted by Laurie Howells on September 18, 2014 10:20

Editor Comment:

I think you'll find, Laurie, that farang888 chooses his heroes more carefully. He certainly doesn't descend to name-calling in his conversations, concentrating on the topics instead. So far, you're the only fool fixating on the editor. I am posting this comment so other readers understand that you're still there, and that your comments are well beyond ever being worthy of publication.



Posted by phonus on September 18, 2014 11:35

Editor Comment:

You know what you are, phoney baloney. No need to remind you.


You can say what you like, but making fun of my name is just cheap.

Posted by phonus on September 18, 2014 11:59

Editor Comment:

What does that make calling me a c*** then, phoney baloney? Goodbye.


Ed. My last comment on this subject.

I was only trying to point out that you as a member of the press should at least live up to the same standards as you try to hold your readers to. Actually the press should adhere to a higher standard.

You have refused to address the issue regarding your comments and instead have lowered yourself to name calling. A teacher once told me that you know when you have won a debate/discussion when the other side refuses to address their biased, bigoted position and starts name calling.

I am not in any way belligerent (and yes I know what that word means). It is you that "seems to be" hostile. So I will leave you with your unfounded seemingly biased opinion's because I know that a zebra can not change it's stripes.

And you have a good day. You hear.

Posted by Dkin on September 18, 2014 12:01

Editor Comment:

Please tell me what names I called you, Dkin. Struggling to do so? No wonder. I simply challenged your faulty logic and your sad, confused understanding of what was a simple, straightforward comment by me. If you can't absorb information accurately, you will never be able to analyse events without losing the plot.

And just in case you missed it: A man has shot and killed his daughter and six grandchildren in the small north Florida town of Bell, in what authorities have called a murder-suicide, according to media reports.


@Laurie Howells

What a sad little specimen you are. Your comments regarding the editor's current predicament and the delight you take in it, are truly vile. Clearly, you have no respect or regard for the plight of the individuals the editor seeks to highlight. You selfish, pernicious little man.

I would suggest you crawl back into your sad little hole, drink your next lonely singha, along with your paid companion. Leave the real discussion and debate to the grown-ups; furthermore, don't read the publication, your pathetic interactions will certainly not be missed.

Posted by Who is Laurie Howells on September 18, 2014 13:34


Dear Laurie,
AM has more decency in his little finger than you have in your sad frame. He stands up for those who cant defend themselves and so unlike you will always have freinds. He even provides a forum for debate and to raise key pertinent issues, that positively effect our environment, and has the strength of character to allow you a voice. So for you to actually enjoy the prospect of his incarceration puts you in the same category as that other Physco Sue. Tell me is she your only freind? When AM is vindicated for his moral stand you will be left in the just, the differnce is that AM would probably still give you a hand up from the gutter where you belong.

Posted by Are you Sue's Lover on September 18, 2014 13:37


I didn't bring you up like this to be a jumped up vitronic over zealous little man, with no sense of moral decency or values. When you get home I will make you sit on the naughty step. Khun Lek called and said she doesn't wnat to be your wife anymoe if you dont pay for the sick buffalo.
Ps I hope you are washing behind your ears. Love Mummy.

Posted by Laurie's Mum on September 18, 2014 13:55


Sorry to drag this back to the serious article above (and away from all your ridiculousness) but what has this got to do with drugs or full moon parties ?!?

I thought they were on Koh Tao ? Maybe I missed something ?

Why further tarnish their tragic deaths by insinuating that this had anything to do with crime on Koh Phangan ?

Even more disturbing (and telling) was the blame the victim comment about "them coming over here" (something like that) "and wearing bikinis so what do they expect", again something like that. No insinuated blame for Mr. Miller too ?

Ed, your work on human rights and immigration are to be commended (understatement), but your previously published views on the sexism that is inherent in Thai society clearly show you're not going to agree with this last statement. (Although you did publish the comment so maybe I'm wrong.)

P.S. Have any of you apart from Sam been to a full moon party, or are you just going on what you want to believe ? (I went to one last year, my first, and saw about 2 people who looked they'd had drugs. Did encounter 1 dangerous "local" though.)

P.P.S. Laurie you are a disgrace.

Posted by James on September 18, 2014 20:02

Thursday December 9, 2021
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