‘I will forever be indebted to them’ – sister of Essex University student murdered in Thailand pays heartfelt tribute to police

Hannah Witheridge

Hannah Witheridge - Credit: ONLY FOR USE IN ARCHANT PUBLICAT

It is more than three years since 23-year-old Norfolk student Hannah Witheridge was brutally murdered while backpacking in Thailand.

Laura Witheridge. Picture: MARK AMIES

Laura Witheridge. Picture: MARK AMIES - Credit: Archant

It is more than three years since 23-year-old Colchester student Hannah Witheridge was brutally murdered while backpacking in Thailand.

The lives of University of Essex student Miss Witheridge’s devastated family will never be the same again, but their long and difficult journeys back from the depths of despair have been helped by police family liaison officers (FLOs) in their home county of Norfolk.

Miss Witheridge’s sister Laura has given an open and incredibly moving account of the vital role of FLOs trying to ease their pain.

She said: “I’m not sure how three whole years have passed since my beautiful sister Hannah was so senselessly taken from us; it feels more like three minutes.

Hannah Witheridge, picture released by her family.

Hannah Witheridge, picture released by her family. - Credit: Archant


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“I remain envious of people who have never heard of family liaison officers. I too enjoyed that blissful ignorance until September 15, 2014 when our lives changed forever. I was naïve to the significance of the role and had no idea these two very influential police officers were about to support my family through the most horrific time of our lives.

“Grief is capricious and affects people differently. Managing and supporting others as they endure the brutal ride that tragedy offers must be a treacherous endeavour.

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“For my family, they achieved it so remarkably well. They quickly figured out the way we all needed supporting. The aftermath of tragedy is such an unpredictable path and everyone responds differently. Their ability to tailor their approach to each and every one of us was truly remarkable.

“For us, the case had the added complexity of having taken place overseas. First and foremost, we wanted to bring Hannah home. Our family liaison officers supported us in achieving this.

“The support continued as they kept us updated on how the case was unfolding overseas, and even travelled to Thailand with us to attend the trial of the two men accused of Hannah’s murder. They went above and beyond and supported us as best they could through an impossible ordeal.

“Even now, three years on, they continue to keep us up-to-date with any new information that they receive from overseas in relation to those condemned for Hannah’s death. It is difficult to adequately articulate with words just how extraordinary their support has been.

“I will forever be indebted to them for the care, compassion and commitment they have dedicated.”

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