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Backpacker murderers lose final appeal against death sentence

Backpacker murderers lose final appeal against death sentence

Thursday 29 August 2019

Backpacker murderers lose final appeal against death sentence

Thursday 29 August 2019

Two Myanmar migrants convicted of murdering Jersey backpacker David Miller and British citizen Hannah Witheridge have lost their fight to avoid the death penalty.

Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin were sentenced to death one year after the killings on the diving resort island of Koh Tao in September 2014.

The tourists’ bodies were found on a beach, with 24-year-old Mr Miller - who was holidaying after completing an engineering degree and en route to a work placement at a mining company in Australia - having suffered blows to the head before being drowned.

Meanwhile, Ms Witheridge (23), of Norfolk, was found to have been raped and beaten.

The Myanmar pair initially confessed to the brutal murders, but later retracted their confessions amid accusations from their lawyers that the case was handled badly and that forensic evidence against them was contaminated.

But the arguments found no favour, with the pair being convicted in December 2015 and later having their appeal against the ruling dismissed in 2017.

They then brought their fight against the death penalty to the Supreme Court, but a panel of two judges ruled against the men, who did not visibly react as they were told. 

Legal professionals representing the duo are now aiming to be granted a pardon by Thai royalty within 60 days, the limit under the country’s law.

Speaking ahead of the legal proceedings that saw Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin first convicted in 2015, Mr Miller's family paid tribute to the "loving son and brother".

“The act which ended David's life devastated our family and his friends. Just hours before he died David was talking to us with his usual enthusiasm, describing the beauty of Koh Tao and the friendliness of the Thai people... This pain will remain a part of us for the rest of our lives," they said.

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