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Family's pain a year after murder of Hannah Witheridge, 23, on Thai beach

Published 15/09/2015

Hannah Witheridge's mother Sue (left) arrives with her daughters, Laura (centre) and Tania at her daughter Hannah's funeral service last year
Hannah Witheridge's mother Sue (left) arrives with her daughters, Laura (centre) and Tania at her daughter Hannah's funeral service last year

The family of a British backpacker murdered in Thailand have described their "torturous pain" a year on from her death.

Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Norfolk, and David Miller, 24, from Jersey, were found dead on the island of Koh Tao on September 15 last year.

Burmese migrants Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo are on trial for murder after denying their involvement.

In a statement, Miss Witheridge's family said that their lives "changed forever" on the day of her murder.

They added: "Our beautiful Hannah was taken from us in the most horrific way possible.

"Losing someone you love is always difficult but losing someone so senselessly and unexpectedly, at such an early stage of their life, makes for an indescribably impossible time.

"Hannah was a fun, vibrant and talented young woman. She was always happy and possessed a unique ability to find good in everyone and everything.

"Along with her bubbly and exciting personality, Hannah was extremely intelligent and after earning a degree with first class honours from the University of East Anglia, was working towards a masters degree in speech and language therapy in Essex.

"She would have gone on to make a significant difference to the lives of many people."

The family, who have travelled to Thailand for parts of the murder trial, added that time had not made their suffering any easier.

"People try to reassure us that time will help to ease the pain, they are wrong," the statement said. "Every day gets harder and the more time that passes increases the pain and intensifies the longing. It is torturous.

"The world is a less vibrant and much less beautiful place without Hannah in it.

"Today serves as a very real reminder that the world is a very dangerous place and that life isn't fussy about who it trips up. As always, our thoughts are with David's family."

The pair's bodies were found on a beach on Koh Tao. Miss Witheridge had been raped while Mr Miller died after being hit over the head before drowning in the sea.

Post-mortem examinations showed that both had suffered severe head wounds.

Both defendants, aged 22, initially confessed to the killings but later retracted these statements, saying they had been tortured.

Prosecutors say the DNA evidence, collected from cigarette butts, a condom and the bodies of the victims, links the two men to the killings.

But the trial on the island of Koh Samui recently heard that a garden hoe alleged to have been used in the killings carried the DNA of two men but there was no trace of either defendant.

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