Norfolk: Funeral held of murdered University of Essex student Hannah Witheridge

Mourners arrive for the funeral of murder victim Hannah Witheridge 23, from Hemsby, Norfolk, at St M

Mourners arrive for the funeral of murder victim Hannah Witheridge 23, from Hemsby, Norfolk, at St Mary's Church, in her home town of Hemsby. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. - Credit: PA

The funeral of a University of Essex student who was murdered in Thailand has been held in her home village.

Hannah Witheridge

Hannah Witheridge - Credit: PA

A white horse-drawn hearse with a mounted police escort took the body of Hannah Witheridge, 23, on a short final journey from her family home in Hemsby, Norfolk, to the village’s St Mary The Virgin church.

Her battered body was found on a beach on Koh Tao on September 15 alongside that of fellow murdered Briton David Miller, 24, from Jersey.

Scores of people, many in tears, arrived for the funeral service, billed as “Hannah’s Party”, with many arriving in bright clothes to celebrate her life, as her family had asked.

So many people came to pay their respects that around 50 listened to the service by the Rev Charles Powles on speakers in the autumn sun in the churchyard near the East Anglian coast.

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Hannah’s father Tony, sisters Tania and Laura, and brother Paul were among those who gave readings. Locals also lined the roadside outside the church to remember one of their own.

Bill Downs, a friend of Miss Witheridge, performed several songs during the service, which could be heard outside, drifting through the village near Great Yarmouth.

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A video of Miss Witheridge was also played.

The service ended with her coffin being carried out for a private burial to the song She’s So Lovely by Scouting For Girls, as friends and family clapped along.

Earlier this week, Miss Witheridge’s family paid tribute to a fun, vibrant and beautiful young woman who will be “sorely missed by all who knew her”.

They added: “She was dedicated, ambitious and would have made an amazing difference to the lives of many families through her chosen career as a speech and language therapist.

“As a family we hope that the right people are found and brought to justice.”

Local police say two Burmese workers have confessed to the killings, although it was reported last night that they have retracted their confessions, claiming they were made under duress.

The men, whose names were given only as Saw and Win, were paraded by police at a news conference last week as well as re-enacting the brutal assault.

Deputy police chief spokesman Colonel Kissana Phathanacharoen said the two suspects, both 21, had been charged with three offences - conspiracy to murder, conspiracy to rape and robbery.

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