The brutal murders took place on the Thai tropical island Koh Tao in September 2014. The bodies of the two British backpackers were discovered on a popular beach on the island in the early hours of September 15th 2014. Hannah Witheridge, 23, had been raped and then beaten to death with a garden hoe. David Miller, 24, drowned after being beaten unconscious.
The case was tried at Koh Samui Provincial Court because Koh Tao doesn’t have a large enough court house to try such a case. David’s brother, Michael Miller, commented “Justice has been delivered today.”
The families of both Hannah and David are satisfied that justice has been served in light of overwhelming evidence. The two convicted Burmese men, both 22 years of age, showed no remorse.
The defence team plan to appeal the sentences. Andy Hall, a British migrant workers activist stated that “We believe the evidence presented in court was full of holes and incompetently collected and presented, the prosecution did not prove their case beyond reasonable doubt.”
The trial lasted six months and has been rather disorganized at times. The Royal Thai Police were under a lot of pressure to solve the case, but without witnesses it was difficult. Many comments made on social media and in the press inferred that the Burmese workers were scapegoats and there were many alternative plots discussed.
When Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were arrested two weeks after the crime, they confessed to carrying out the rape and murders. However, they later retracted their confessional statements claiming that they had been tortured.
The verdict took an hour to deliver. Thai judges very rarely issue the death penalty, with only two executions having been carried out in the last 12 years, both were in 2009. It is quite likely that these death sentences will be commuted to life imprisonment in the near future.
Tributes to both Hannah and David were made. Nothing can replace them and it is terribly sad how two young people had their lives cut short in such a horrible way. For the families and many others, it is believed justice has been delivered and agree with the verdict of the Koh Samui Provincial Court.
“Hannah was a beautiful, intelligent, loving young woman who poured joy into the lives of all who knew her. She was selfless and caring and made each and every day that little bit more wonderful”
“David was an artist by temperament, so talented. He had a creative eye that he carried with him through life and in his degree. He was hard-working, bright and conscientious, with everything to look forward to.”