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Hannah Witheridge and David Miller
The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found in Koh Tao. Image courtesy of nypost.com

Thai Murders: DNA samples do not match defendants

A forensic expert has said that the DNA found on the garden hoe – allegedly used to kill two British backpackers travelling in Thailand – does not match the defendants.

In September of last year the bodies of British backpackers Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found on a beach on the holiday island of Koh Tao.

Miss Witherage from Norfolk had been beaten and raped, while Mr Miller from Jersey had been clubbed around the head before drowning in the sea.

Burmese bar workers Zaw Lin, 22, and Wei Phyo, 22, both pleaded not guilty to the crime, claiming that police had threatened to kill them.

DNA analysis was ordered by the defence following the failure of police to carry out their own tests. The police alleged that they had examined the hoe with a microscope and were confident that there were no samples to be found.

The head of Thailand’s central forensics institute told the trial that two DNA profiles and been found on the hoe. One of the profiles was a full sample, the other a partial sample. Neither of the samples matched the defendants.

Thai forensic pathologist Porntip Rojanasunand also told the trail – on the island of Koh Samui – that police had treated the murder scene haphazardly. Blood spatters had not been tested, potential evidence was destroyed as at least one of the bodies had been move, and on top of that, not enough photos had been taken.

The prosecution has claimed that other DNA that was found on Miss Witheridgee’s body does match the defendants.

Sky News’ Katie Stallard has said of the trial “You’ve have this pretty extraordinary situation going on in court today where the head of Thailand’s forensics institute is effectively contradicting the case of the Royal Thai Police.”

The trial had previously heard claims from the defendants that they had been beaten whilst naked by the police, before being suffocated with plastic bags and threatened with death. They alleged that police had threatened to kill them and dump them at sea.

Both men claim that they eventually confessed, but only after being told they would only be imprisoned for four or five years. A Thai solicitor who sat in on the interrogation has said otherwise, claiming that the defendants freely admitted their guilt.

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