Fresh agony for families of British backpackers murdered in Thailand 10 years ago as killers demand review

2 April 2024, 06:10 | Updated: 2 April 2024, 09:16

The pair have reportedly demanded a review.
The pair have reportedly demanded a review. Picture: Getty/PA

By Jenny Medlicott

The families of two British backpackers who were killed in Thailand 10 years ago are facing fresh agony after the two convicted killers have demanded a review of the case.

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In 2015, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, both 29, were initially sentenced to death for the murder of David Miller and murder and murder and rape of Hannah Witheridge but in 2020 a Thai royal decree changed their sentences to life in prison.

But now the pair are demanding a review of the case as they continue to insist on their innocence after 10 years.

Prison letters shown to The Mirror show the pair are still maintaining their innocence and are looking to secure a retrial.

Zaw Lin reportedly wrote in one letter to his legal team: “I have been in prison [for] almost 10 years for nothing, it’s unbelievable... Could you please retrial again my case? I’ve never seen the people who died on the beach at Koh Tao.”

The Burmese bar workers who were convicted for brutal murders have always claimed they were stitched up and accused detectives of conducting a “botched” investigation, The Mirror reports.

A delegation of solicitors has reportedly visited the pair in Thailand’s notorious Bang Kwang jail, including a British justice campaigner.

Zaw Lin reportedly said in a letter: “I want to get out as I am innocent.”

The bodies of Mr Miller and Ms Witheridge were found in 2014.
The bodies of Mr Miller and Ms Witheridge were found in 2014. Picture: PA

He also said in another letter: “I will be 29 this month. It’s so sad to know that I am wasting my young life away for nothing. I think I will get out of prison in a few more years... as I have already been in prison a long time. They should set me free now. I am sad to think I wasted my young life in prison for nothing.”

The bodies of Mr Miller and Ms Witheridge, aged 24 and 23 respectively, were found on the tourist island of Koh Tao in September 2014.

They were brutally bludgeoned to death, as the trial in Koh Samui heard that a garden hoe was used to beat the two backpackers.

However, Lin claimed the forensic evidence that linked him to the weapon was flawed.

The claim will likely bring fresh agony to the victims’ families after the conviction of the killers had been controversial among some.

Dozens of people came out in support of Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun, claiming they had been framed and that they had initially confessed to the crimes under duress.

They had initially confessed to the murders but later retracted their statements, claiming they had been tortured into them.

In 2019, the killers’ mothers submitted a plea for clemency from the Thai King, as they claimed the pair had confessed initially under duress.

Thai police denied using force during their investigation.

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The killers reportedly want a review.
The killers reportedly want a review. Picture: Alamy

In 2020, when Thailand’s King decreed the pair would no longer be sentenced to death, the parents of David Miller welcomed the change as they had previously campaigned against the death penalty.

In a statement, they said: “We are grateful to His Majesty the King of Thailand for showing his clemency to the murderers of our son David.”

They did add, however, that they hoped the pair would spend a “very long time in jail where they cannot harm other families.”

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were sentenced in 2015, which was held up by an appeals court in 2017 and the Supreme Court in 2019.

Following the royal decree to remove the death sentence, the brother of Win Zaw Tun told AFP: “I can't find words to express how thankful we are.

“We knew this case was totally unfair, and we sometimes feel bitterness, but we want to say thanks for the royal pardon.”

Mr Miller, from from St Helier, Jersey, was backpacking with a friend after completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Leeds and was due to start a master's.

Ms Witheridge, from Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was working towards a master's in Essex after completing a degree at the University of East Anglia.

The pair had travelled separately to Thailand and met on their trip.

Their bodies were discovered on Sairee Beach, near their hotel, at around 4.30am by a beach cleaner.

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