Sister of murdered Hemsby backpacker Hannah Witheridge targeted with death threats
PUBLISHED: 12:02 11 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:59 11 January 2016
The sister of Hannah Witheridge has told how she was targeted with death threats and sent disturbing photos after the death of the Hemsby student on a Thai island.
In a public Facebook post, Laura Witheridge, the elder sister of Hannah Witheridge, described how since her sister’s death she had been targeted with death threats, sent crime scene photographs and chased in her car.
“What if I told you that I am now frightened of my own shadow? That I am constantly looking over my shoulder? That I am exhausted, but frightened to sleep because of the nightmares?” Miss Witheridge wrote.
She also alleged that the family were offered compensation to “keep quiet”. She added: “Obviously we were absolutely appalled and told them to shove it.”
She said that she was prompted to speak out following the discovery of the body of another young backpacker on Koh Tao island, and after seeing a comment which described Thailand as “the most beautiful place in the world”.
Luke Miller, 27, of Newport, Isle of Wight, was discovered by hotel staff floating in a swimming pool on Saturday. The circumstances of his death are currently unclear, and local police are investigating.
It comes 15 months after Hannah Witheridge, from Hemsby, and David Miller, from Jersey, were killed on the same island.
In her public post, which has now been shared over 1,400 times, Laura Witheridge urged people to recognise that although the island is aesthetically beautiful, it can ”lure you into a very dangerous trap”.
She said: “Since Hannah was taken from us, I am continually asked whether I will warn the world about the dangers of Thailand. I am asked if I will warn people because I might just ‘save someone’s life’. This person’s comment serves as a perfect example of why I would be wasting my time. People can be ignorant and many, probably the majority, have very short memories.
“Countless times, I have logged into Facebook and seen statuses made by people who know both Hannah and I, who have gone out there anyway. They think it won’t happen to them. Well, guess what? Neither did we. No one is immune.”
Miss Witheridge goes on to give examples of what was said to the family while in Thailand, including: “Why are you here? Why do you care? She is dead already.”
The post also addressed the Thai Police, who Miss Witheridge accused of being “corrupt”.
She said that there had been many suspicious deaths on Koh Tao since her sister was killed, but that they were often “covered up as suicides and accidents”. The only reason, she said, that this was not the case with Hannah was due to the “hideous brutality of her passing”.
She finished the post by asking anyone who still thought Thailand was “beautiful” to watch a video posted by hacktivist group Anonymous, which claims to expose alleged scapegoating in relevance to murders on Koh Tao.
Last week, the hacking collective launched a cyber attack on the Thai police after a 37 minute video was posted on Anonymous’s Facebook page.
It said 14 websites had been targeted and a masked person questioned the competency of the Thai police force and its handling of the murder investigation and other cases.
The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were discovered on a beach on the holiday island on September 15 2014.
Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, also known as Win Zaw Htun, initially confessed to the killings but later retracted their statements - claiming they had been tortured by police.
Prosecutors said DNA evidence found on cigarette butts, linked the men, both from Myanmar, to the killings.
Their account was disputed by the defence team who said evidence was mishandled by police and that the case had been dogged by chaos and error from the start.
The guilty verdict also sparked angry protests in Myanmar.