Essex: Two men charged with murder of Hannah Witheridge
- Credit: Archant
Two Burmese workers said by police to have confessed to killing two British tourists, including a University of Essex student, in Thailand have been filmed taking part in a reconstruction of the attack.
The two men, whose names were given only as Saw and Win, were paraded by police at a news conference as well as acting out the brutal assault on Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24.
The pair’s battered bodies were discovered on a beach on the popular holiday island of Koh Tao on September 15.
Deputy police chief spokesman Colonel Kissana Phathanacharoen said today that the two suspects had been charged with three offences: conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to rape, and robbery.
He added that it was now down to the public prosecutor to issue a prosecution order which would lead to them appearing in court.
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Police said DNA results, CCTV footage and other evidence had supported the men’s confessions that they raped and killed Ms Witheridge and murdered Mr Miller.
Today, a man and woman posed as the pair as a reconstruction was carried out on the beach in front of crowds of onlookers.
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Many of them filmed the unusual scene on their mobile phones as the two suspects - wearing helmets and body armour vests over casual clothes - used props to act out the attack on the two Britons while police looked on and took notes.
The colonel said it was normal practice to carry out such a reconstruction when suspects confess.
He told the Press Association: “It’s what you call the crime enactment. It’s carried out in order to get a sense of what happened after the confession. In Thai law the offenders have to give their consent - you can’t force them to do it.”
The suspects displayed sombre expressions and looked as it they were praying when they appeared in handcuffs at the news conference earlier.
Still in the helmets and body armour, they sat quietly on the ground surrounded by a dozen police officers.
The police investigation has come under close scrutiny after changing direction on a number of occasions as officers appeared to be struggling to identify those responsible.
Last week a reward of 700,000 baht - roughly £13,300 - was offered for information leading to the arrests of the killers, while around 150 officers were posted to the island.
Earlier, the colonel defended the investigation.
“Royal Thai police are committed to arresting the offenders,” he said. “We have worked round the clock since day one.
“High-ranking officials have placed great emphasis on this case. We have followed the standard operating procedures during our investigation.”
Post-mortem examinations revealed that University of Essex student Ms Witheridge, from Hemsby, Norfolk, died from head wounds while Mr Miller, from Jersey, was killed by severe blows to the head and drowning. A bloodstained garden hoe was found near the scene.
Officers have collected 200 DNA samples from people on the island after two different semen samples were obtained from Miss Witheridge’s body.
Mr Miller’s father, Ian, has said he believes his son stepped in to help Miss Witheridge.
The two suspects are both aged 21, police said.
The colonel added that it was very important to Thai prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha that the case was solved.