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Sister, 30, of murdered backpacker Hannah Witheridge dies

The family of murdered backpacker Hannah Witheridge has been hit by a fresh tragedy with the sudden death of her sister.

Laura Daniels, 30, died in hospital on Monday just five years and one day after her sister Hannah, 23, and fellow traveller David Miller, 24, were murdered on a beach in Thailand.

Last month it emerged that two Burmese migrants convicted of the murders faced execution after appeals against their conviction were thrown out.

Miss Witheridge’s parents Tony and Susan Witheridge announced Laura’s death today, saying they had been left in ‘indescribable’ pain.

Laura Daniels (pictured, right), 30, died in hospital on Monday just five years and one day after her sister Hannah (left), 23, and fellow traveller David Miller, 24, were murdered

David Miller (pictured with Hannah) was killed in Thailand while the pair were travelling together five years ago

David Miller (pictured with Hannah) was killed in Thailand while the pair were travelling together five years ago 

They said in a family statement: ‘We confirm that our beautiful girl Laura passed away on Monday, September 16.

‘Laura had been gravely ill and was being treated in hospital. Our hearts are broken, our lives are shattered once more.

‘The pain of this loss is indescribable and our family very much need time and privacy during this unbearable time.’

Hannah (pictured) died while travelling in Thailand and today her family announced the tragic death of her sister

Hannah (pictured) died while travelling in Thailand and today her family announced the tragic death of her sister 

Ms Daniels is understood to have got married this year. The reasons for her admission to hospital have not been disclosed.

Miss Witheridge of Hemsby near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was raped before she and Mr Miller from Jersey were battered to death with a hoe on a beach on the island of Koh Tao on September 15, 2014.

Burmese migrants Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, both 25, who were working on Koh Tao were convicted of the murders and Hannah’s rape on December 24,2015, and sentenced to death.

The pair insisted that they were innocent and claimed that their earlier admissions were as a result of being tortured.

Defence lawyers also claim the evidence and DNA in the case had been mishandled, making it unreliable.

But last month their final appeal against their conviction was dismissed by the Supreme Court in Thailand which ruled that the forensic work was handled by respectable institutions and there was no proof of torture.

Immediately after the hearing, the two migrants appealed to the families of Miss Witheridge and Mr Walker, asking them to co-operate in seeking a royal pardon from the Thai king.

An inquest into the death of Miss Witheridge which was held in Norwich in February 2016 heard how her family described her as ‘a fun, vibrant and beautiful young woman’.

Her parents who are separated had pleaded with not to go on her backpacking trip to Thailand because they feared for her safety

Mrs Wotheridge, 61, said in a statement how the lives of her family had been ‘changed forever’ by her murder.

Laura (pictured) died on Monday, with her family saying today that their pain is 'indescribable'

Laura (pictured) died on Monday, with her family saying today that their pain is ‘indescribable’ 

She said that Hannah had originally planned to go to Europe or Australia before making a late decision to go to Thailand.

Mrs Witheridge said: ‘The family had always been against Hannah going on the trip and tried to persuade her out of it. None of the family was happy with her going there, but she had made her mind up.’

Her daughter had tried to allay her fears by talking to them by Skype or sending messages every day, she said.

Mrs Witheridge paid tribute to her daughter, saying: ‘She was a beautiful and fun loving woman who filled the room with love and happiness just by being there.’

‘There wasn’t a bad bone in her body. She achieved so much and had so much more ahead of her. Our family is broken and will never be the same again.

‘It will never make any sense. The fact that she is not here, affects us every day.’

Home Office pathologist Dr Nat Cary said Miss Witheridge had died from severe head injuries, consistent with multiple blows from the blade of a hoe wielded as a weapon and it was likely she would have died ‘rapidly’.

Dr Cary also said there were signs that Hannah had been dragged and sexually assaulted. He found no evidence of defensive injuries.

Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake recorded a conclusion that Hannah had been unlawfully killed.

She sympathised with Hannah’s family for their suffering over her ‘tragic and unnecessary loss’.

Sister of murdered backpacker wrote that many Thais ‘hate westerners’ after she was killed  

Two years after her sister was murdered, Laura wrote a Facebook post warning people not to travel to Thailand claiming Westerners are hated in the country.

She said it is far from the beautiful country people talk of as she launched a scathing attack on the country saying many Thais had no regard for human life and treated people like dirt

Labelling Thai officials ‘corrupt’, she said court officials asked her family during the trial: ‘Why are you here?’ and ‘why do you care?’

‘Since Hannah was taken from us, I am continually asked whether I will warn the world about the dangers of Thailand,’ she wrote on Facebook in 2016.

‘Countless times, I have logged in to Facebook and seen statuses made by people who know both Hannah and I, who have gone out [to Thailand] anyway.

‘They think it wont happen to them. Well, guess what? Neither did we. No one is immune.’

Hannah died shortly before she was due to start the second year of a speech and language masters degree at the University of Essex.

She graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in education in 2012.

The family of Mr Miller from St Helier, Jersey, who was battered and drowned said after the trial of the migrants that they accepted the verdict.

But Ms Daniuels criticised the ‘bungled’ police investigation into the murders in a Facebook post in January 2016.

Her post which was later removed suggested she believed that the two convicted men might be innocent.

Ms Daniels also revealed at the time that she had been targeted by death treats and sent disturbing photographs of the murder scene.

She spoke out last November at the sentencing of sadistic troll Paul Hind, 38, who was jailed for 14 months at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard he set up a fake Twitter profile in Hannah’s name which Laura described as ‘cruel, completely inaccurate and callous.’

Laura revealed previously how her family had been ‘drop-kicked into the pits of hell itself’ when Hannah was murdered.

She appeared at the Norfolk Safer Community Awards (NOSCAs) in Norwich in 2016 when a new award was presented in memory of Hannah acknowledging the work of police family liaison officers.

She said that following her sister’s death even the simplest of tasks had become impossible and said the officers assigned to their family had helped them through their darkest hours.

Some £17,000 was raised by a Go Fund Me donation page set up by Laura to enable the family to attend the trial in Thailand and pay for an interpreter.

Writing poignantly on the page she said: ‘The past year has thrown our lives into disarray, tarnished our trust in anything and everything and made us question humanity.

‘On my darkest days, I think about the people who have thrown themselves out of planes, run significant distances and those who have sacrificed precious pounds from tight budgets to support us.

‘It is in these selfless acts of kindness that I see reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other.’

Mr Miller’s father told ITV News that he did not want the Burmese migrants to be executed even though they ‘have done something quite terrible and justice has been given to them’. 

Thailand sentences two Myanmar migrants to death for murdering two British backpackers on a beach on ‘death island’ Koh Tao as Supreme Court rejects appeal

By Chris Pleasance for MailOnline

Thailand’s Supreme Court last month upheld murder convictions against two Myanmar migrant workers sentenced to death for killing two British backpackers.

Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin were sentenced to death in December 2015 for the murder of David Miller and Hannah Witheridge, who were found bludgeoned to death on a beach on the island of Koh Tao in September 2014.

Phyo and Lin initially confessed to raping Miss Witheridge before beating her and Mr Miller to death, but later recanted, saying they were tortured.

Following the murders, Koh Tao earned the nicknamed of ‘death island’ due to the number of western tourists who have died or gone missing there. As of July last year, the total stood at ten.

Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin (left) and Wai Phyo (right) last month had their murder conviction for the 2014 slayings of two British backpackers upheld by Thailand's Supreme Court

Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin (left) and Wai Phyo (right) last month had their murder conviction for the 2014 slayings of two British backpackers upheld by Thailand’s Supreme Court

Lawyers for Phyo and Lin also claimed that forensic evidence used to convict them was contaminated and should be thrown out.

In their verdict, a panel of two judges said the death sentences handed down by lower courts would be upheld as the men had been found guilty of murder and rape on the basis of evidence and forensic results.

The men displayed no emotion as they listened intently to a translator while the verdict was read at a court in the province of Nonthaburi, just north of Bangkok, the capital.

The men’s legal team said it would seek a royal pardon within 60 days, as provided in Thai law.

After the discovery of the British tourists’ bodies on a beach on Koh Tao, police said Hannah, from Norfolk, had been raped and bludgeoned to death while David, from Jersey, had suffered blows to his head.

Hannah (pictured right with a friend on Koh Tao shortly before she died) was backpacking in Thailand while studying at the University of Essex to be a speech therapist

Hannah (pictured right with a friend on Koh Tao shortly before she died) was backpacking in Thailand while studying at the University of Essex to be a speech therapist

The murders sullied Thailand’s image in the tourism industry, which accounts for about 10 percent of the country’s economy.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were quickly arrested and later sentenced to death in 2015, a verdict that was upheld by the appeal court in 2017.

Thai police have faced widespread domestic and international criticism for their handling of the case and the evidence.

A pro-bono legal team defending the men has said evidence collected by police was unreliable and not in accordance with internationally accepted standards, arguing it should not have been used to convict them.

Phyo (left) and Lin (right) were planning to appeal for a royal pardon to Thailand's king

Phyo (left) and Lin (right) were planning to appeal for a royal pardon to Thailand’s king

The lawyers have also said the accused men were tortured and coerced into making confessions they later retracted.

‘The death sentence against the two accused and their conviction should be reversed and quashed,’ Andy Hall, an adviser to the men’s legal team, said in a statement to media.

‘DNA and forensics evidence relied on to convict Zaw Law and Wai Phyo, and sentence them to death in the Koh Tao murder case, was fundamentally flawed and unreliable in terms of international standards.’

Thai courts have rejected accusations of torture and ruled that DNA evidence linked the workers to the crime.

David and Hannah were found bludgeoned to death on this Thai beach early in September 2014, shortly before Lin and Phyo were arrested

David and Hannah were found bludgeoned to death on this Thai beach early in September 2014, shortly before Lin and Phyo were arrested

David and Hannah are just two of ten western tourists who are known to have been killed, died in suspicious circumstances, or gone missing on Koh Tao since 2012.

In 2012, 32-year-old Ben Harrington died in what Thai police said was a motorbike crash, but his parents said they became suspicious of the explanation when officers tried to cremate his body the following day.

Despite years of inquiries about her son’s death, including Freedom of Information requests submitted to the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, no fresh details have been forthcoming.

Aside from Hannah and David, 2014 also saw the death of Nick Pearson , 25, from Derby, who was found floating in the ocean on New Year’s Day. His parents believe he was murdered.

The following year Briton Christina Annesley , 23, was found dead from what Thai police described as mixing alcohol with antibiotics for a chest infection.

Then, 29-year-old Frenchman Dimitri Povse was also found hanged with officers describing it as a suicide.

However, Christina’s family say no toxicology report was carried out, raising questions about her death, while Dimitri’s family say he could not have hanged himself because his hands were tied behind his back.

Luke Miller, a bricklayer from the Isle of Wight, was then found dead in a pool on the island in 2016 with Thai police saying there was no evidence of foul play, despite his family saying they had received conflicting reports of events before his death.

In 2017, Belgian Elise Dallemagne was found dead in the jungle of Koh Tao in what police said was suicide by hanging – though her family rejected that explanation.

They believe she was murdered while trying to escape from a Buddhist cult.

The same year Russian tourist Valentina Novozhyonova , 23, vanished from her hostel along with her diving gear. No trace of her has ever been found, though the official Thai police account is that she died at sea.

Then, in June last year 47-year-old German Bernd Grotsch was found dead near his home on the island after what authorities described as a heart attack or snake bite.

But his family said at the time that they had not received an autopsy report and had suspicions about the death.

 

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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