Burmese migrants have convictions upheld over Hannah Witheridge murder
PUBLISHED: 12:11 29 August 2019 | UPDATED: 12:11 29 August 2019
Two migrants who were sentenced to death for the murder of backpacker Hannah Witheridge have seen their convictions upheld.
Burmese pair Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin had denied killing and raping Miss Witheridge, from Hemsby, who died aged 23 while backpacking on the Thai island of Koh Tao in 2014.
They had also denied killing David Miller. The pair's bodies were found on the beach on the morning of September 15, 2014.
Lawyers for the two men had claimed evidence used in the case against them was mishandled and they made confessions under duress that they later retracted, raising questions about police competence and the judicial system in Thailand.
During the trial, a well-known Thai forensics expert testified that the DNA evidence, which formed a major element of the prosecution's case, did not link the defendants to the scene. The expert also alleged that police had failed to properly control the crime scene and mishandled the DNA evidence.
But a court rejected the defence arguments and in December 2015 convicted both defendants of murder and sentenced them to death.
Human Rights Watch at the time called the verdict "profoundly disturbing", citing the defendants' accusations of police torture that were never investigated and questionable DNA evidence linking them to the crime.
But Thailand's Supreme Court has now upheld their convictions.
Miss Witheridge and Mr Miller, 24 and from Jersey, had arrived in Thailand separately and met at the hotel where they were both staying.
Their killers, who were both 22 at the time, were employed as service workers on the island, which is famous for is diving locations.