Family of backpacker murdered in Thailand say ‘correct verdict’ has been reached, but defence say appeal likely
- Credit: Archant
The family of David Miller said the 'correct verdict' has been reached after two Burmese migrants were sentenced to death for the murders of the backpacker and Hannah Witheridge in Thailand.
The battered bodies of Miss Witheridge, 23, and Mr Miller, 24, were discovered on the idyllic holiday island of Koh Tao on September 15 last year.
Bar workers Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, also known as Win Zaw Htun, men were today found guilty of murder and rape and issued with the death penalty.
Mr Miller's brother Michael, flanked by parents Ian and Sue, said outside court: 'We believe the result today represents justice for David and Hannah.
'David always stood up for justice and justice is what has been delivered today.
'We respect this court and it's decision completely.
'It is our opinion that the evidence against Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin is absolutely overwhelming.
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'They raped to satisfy their selfish desires and murdered to cover up that fact. They have shown no remorse during the trial.
'We believe the correct verdict has been reached.'
The family of Mr Miller said after hearing the evidence that the Thai police investigation was 'not the so-called shambles it was made out to be'.
Michael Miller said: 'Like many people we were initially unsure what to think when Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were detained as suspects.
'We saw images of two innocent looking men surrounded by tough policemen. It was easy to conclude they might be convenient scapegoats.
'Concern for the accused has been widespread. A petition was organised and funds were raised for their benefit. A group of activists became involved and has promoted their cause vigorously to the media.
'We believe that after a difficult start the Royal Thai police conducted a methodical and thorough investigation.
'We hope the campaigners who have relentlessly promoted this case will respect the process of law and the decision of the court.'
Michael Miller paid tribute to the family of Miss Witheridge for the 'horrors they are also enduring with such dignity'.
He said: 'Our lives have been changed forever. Nothing brings David home. No last hugs. No goodbyes.
'Whatever our anguish, the love we have for David can never be taken away.
'Our 24 years of memories and his beaming smile will always be cherished. David was intelligent, hardworking, he was caring, inclusive, enthusiastic and fun. He was irreplaceable to us.
'Our hearts will always be filled with the brightness he brought to our hearts. We are so proud of him. We and his friends will miss him terribly.'
Andy Hall, an international affairs adviser with the Migrant Worker Rights Network, which has represented the defendants, said they planned to appeal against the court's decision.
He said: 'The defendants have said today, whatever the decision, they accept the decision but they believe very strongly that one day the truth in this case will come out.
'They're confident during the appeal process they will be acquitted.'
An appeal will be lodged in the next 30 days and it could take between six months to a year before a decision is reached, Mr Hall said.
The mothers of the two defendants burst into tears after the verdicts and emerged from court as Mr Miller's brother finished the family's statement.