Norfolk

Thai beach murders: Death sentence upheld by Supreme Court

Hannah Witheridge and David Miller Image copyright PA
Image caption Hannah Witheridge and David Miller's bodies were found on a beach in Koh Tao in September 2014

Two men convicted of murdering two British backpackers in Thailand have had their death sentence upheld by its Supreme Court.

The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found on a beach on Koh Tao in September 2014.

Burmese bar workers Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were found guilty of murder in 2015. They lost an appeal in 2017.

The men claimed they were tortured by police and their legal team had argued evidence had been mishandled

Miss Witheridge, a University of Essex student from Hemsby, Norfolk and Mr Miller, a civil and structural engineering graduate, from Jersey had been bludgeoned to death.

A post-mortem examination showed Miss Witheridge had been raped.

Image caption Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were convicted of the murders in a Thai court and sentenced to death

The mothers of Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun lodged appeals at Koh Samui court in May 2016 over concerns about the judgements, in particular the DNA evidence used in the investigation.

The case was upheld and taken to the Thailand Supreme Court - the country's final court of appeal.

Defence lawyers argued DNA from a garden hoe - allegedly used as the murder weapon - did not match samples taken from the men.

Image caption May Thein and Phyu Shwe Nu, the mothers of the Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun, lodged an appeal in 2016

They also claimed evidence had been mishandled by police and the pair's confessions were the result of "systematic abuse" of migrants in the area.

"The collection, transporting, testing, analysis, reporting and storage of forensics or DNA evidence used in the Koh Tao murder case didn't comply with international standards," said Andy Hall, one of the families' legal advisors.

Prosecutors said DNA evidence collected from cigarette butts, a condom and the bodies of the victims linked Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun to the deaths.

The men, from Myanmar, retracted their initial confessions to the offences, saying they had been tortured by police.

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