In my previous article I dug into a few cases out of many hundreds, no doubt, that have contributed in part to the overall image of The Royal Thai Police and the public disbelief over the current investigation into the brutal double murder and rape of Jersey native David Miller and Brit Hannah Witheridge.
At the time of writing this article, two 21 year old Burmese nationals who were working without legal documentation in AC 2 bar on Koh Tao have been charged with murder and rape and are being held in custody in Koh Samui awaiting trial. The Police announced the arrest and confession of the suspects on Oct 2nd, just over 2 weeks on from the discovery of the bodies early on September 15th.
The Police have declared the case to have been perfectly investigated and now closed, unwilling to comment any further on anything relating to the case. Some of the major points of contention concerning the investigation and the guilt of the two suspects are as follows:
– Going against standard procedure in a murder investigation, the Police did NOT use a forensic pathologist to collect DNA samples from the crime scene, instead doing the work themselves.
– The Police failed to secure the crime scene, allowing members of the public to walk all over it hours after the discovery, including one particular local who was briefly considered a suspect later. He is the brother of a powerful Koh Tao patriarch whose family owns businesses on the island, notably AC bar, where the Burmese suspects worked. (more on this family in a moment).
– A week after the murder the Police carried out sweeping DNA tests of all the Island inhabitants including illegal migrants, locals and notably, the 2 suspects now in custody. At this juncture the Police announced that all tests were negative and they were still without a clue as to who committed the crime. Somehow, when they re-tested the 2 suspects after their arrest the results were positive, and obtained unusually quickly.
– The suspects were arrested and interrogated along with another immigrant friend whom the Police claimed had witnessed the crime, without any lawyers or outside witnesses present.
– Both suspects and the witness have since recanted their confessions and claimed that they were beaten and tortured by the Police until they admitted to committing the crime.
– The suspects’ confessions claimed that they saw the victims having sex on the beach, and were aroused, thus motivated to commit the crime. This contradicts statements made by the Police themselves earlier in the investigation that the victims had not had any intimate relations together and that there was no DNA from David or Hannah found on each other.
– Police claimed to have found Hannah’s telephone smashed and disposed of behind the suspects place of abode. When pictures later came out showing this phone already with the police since the day of the discovery they quickly altered this statement claiming the phone belonged to David.
– Early statements by the Police said the crime was consistent with an attack carried out by more than 2 people, as David was a large man, well over 6 feet. The 2 suspects are barely more than 5 feet and bore no signs of bruising or cuts on their bodies which seems unlikely if they had been involved in such a struggle.
– The bloodied hoe identified as the murder weapon used to kill Hannah was not used to kill David, whose wounds seemed more consistent with a very small blade such as a push knife or some other hand mounted weapon.
– No fingerprints were taken from the weapons allegedly used, no bloodied clothes or any other likely evidence has been produced. As far as it’s possible to tell now, the Police case rests on the DNA match which as noted above has been either tampered with or is unreliable at best and some CCTV footage which shows the suspects buying cigarettes in a convenience store earlier in the evening ( a cigarette near the crime scene is purported to hold the suspects DNA along with Hanna’s). A further piece of CCTV footage showing a shirtless man running in the early hours towards, then away from the scene exists but it’s unclear whether it will be used as evidence.
This piece of CCTV footage however marks a good point to examine the allegations of a cover-up. A facebook community page named CSI LA, administered mainly by a Thai national living in LA and a host of other Thai collaborators has been working tirelessly since the murders to ferret out other evidence that the Police have ignored or missed. I’ll be the first to admit that armchair super-sleuths or conspiracy theorists should be taken with more than a grain of salt but as I can read Thai and have been scouring their work over the last month, and, as we can see now, the Police investigation is extremely dubious, I have reason to believe that the following points are more than likely hitting the nail on the head. I will present the next points as either facts or rumours, you can join the dots.
RUMOUR: The prime suspect is a 22/23 year old student, nickname ‘Nomsod’. He is the son of Warot Toovichien, a village headman and the Patriarch of one of 5 powerful families that control business interests in Koh Tao. His uncle is the other suspect mentioned above who was all over the crime scene.
FACT: Early on the morning of September 15th, before the bodies were discovered a speedboat was seen leaving the Island carrying unidentified occupants.
RUMOUR: Comparisons of the CCTV footage of the shirtless running man and pictures of Nomsod do seem to suggest it was him on tape. His gait, in particular his arm when he walks, and his hair (which was promptly cut short shortly afterwards) are the key similarities.
FACT: The father’s statement originally was that Nomsod had to hurry back to Uni in Bangkok for exams. A week later, when they were put under further scrutiny his statement changed to: ‘He hasn’t been home (to Koh Tao) for a few months, I haven’t seen him’. This was untrue however as he had been photographed on the island a month earlier.
FACT: On September 24th it was announced that Nomsod was a person of interest. A press conference was quickly launched at his embassy where his lawyer (a close family friend) brought out CCTV stills of Nomsod at his university residence. The timestamp was 09:16 sept 15th. Early flights from Koh Samui and Surat Thani would have given him enough time to get back to BKK and jump in a taxi. Logic dictates that if he had been at his residence the previous night there would also have been footage to prove that. Recently doubt has been cast on the authenticity of the time stamps, as furniture seen in the residence had been moved a few months before hand yet was back in it’s old position in these cctv captures.
FACT: The police did not request a DNA test from Nomsod. After September the 24th the Police investigation of Nomsod was quietly dropped and not pursued any further. In mid to late October Nomsod finally did a big public televised media spectacle of a DNA swab, with his father sitting loftily amongst the police, the results of course coming back as negative. This impressed no-one as it had already been assumed by critics that the DNA evidence was useless and the showy way in which this happened reinforced suspicions that this had been a long game played over the last month to confuse the public.
RUMOUR: Anonymous tip-offs from residents on the island too scared to speak publicly have placed him on the island the night of the murder. Fellow students at his Uni have anonymously reported his absence and evidence of scratches on his arms upon his return.
While none of the information presented here could be taken as solid proof one way or the other of the involvement of the 2 Burmese suspects or the Toovichien family, it certainly casts serious doubts over the entire investigation or lack of it. At the moment a lot of hopes are resting on the arrival of a group of British detectives in Thailand to uncover the truth. I will be coming at you with a third installment very soon, to see how it might be possible that a cover-up of this magnitude could really be sustained.