Hannah Witheridge and David MillerImage copyright
PA Media

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British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were killed in September 2014

The family of a British backpacker killed in Thailand have welcomed a decision to commute his murderers’ death sentences to life in prison.

Two Burmese workers were sentenced to death in 2015, after being found guilty of killing David Miller, 24, of Jersey, and Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Norfolk

Their sentences have been reviewed to commemorate King Vajiralongkorn’s birthday and to show his “clemency”.

Mr Miller’s family said they were “grateful” to the Thai king.

The bodies of Mr Miller and Miss Witheridge were found on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Tao in 2014.

Lin and Phyo (also known as Win Zaw Htun) were sentenced to death for the murder of Mr Miller and the murder and rape of Ms Witheridge.

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Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo were convicted of the murders in a Thai court and originally sentenced to death

In a statement, Ian and Sue Miller, who have campaigned against the death penalty, said: “We are grateful to His Majesty the King of Thailand for showing his clemency to the murderers of our son David.

‘Truth revealed’

“Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo finally admitted to the rape and murder of Hannah Witheridge and the murder of our son.”

“The final admittance of their guilt has allowed this act of clemency to become possible,” they continued.

The family said it had brought to a close a “lengthy and disturbing period” where activists on social media had attempted to influence justice in Thailand and public opinion elsewhere.

“But in the end the truth has been revealed,” the couple added.

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The bodies of Mr Miller and Miss Witheridge were found on a beach on the Thai island of Koh Tao

Miss Witheridge, a University of Essex student from Hemsby in Norfolk, and Mr Miller, a civil and structural engineering graduate, from Jersey, were bludgeoned to death.

‘Thoughts with Witheridges’

A post-mortem examination showed she had been raped.

Mr and Mrs Miller, from St Helier, said: “Every moment we miss our son.

“Our thoughts are also with the Witheridge family and the tragic loss of their daughter.

“We hope that these two murderers will now spend a very, very long time in jail where they cannot harm other families and will have time to reflect on the consequences of their acts.”

The two men were convicted and sentenced in 2015 and the verdict was upheld by an appeals court in 2017 and the Supreme Court in August 2019.

The convictions were mired in controversy, with supporters of the two men arguing they had been framed because their initial confessions were made under duress.

A royal decree said the sentences had been reviewed to commemorate King Vajiralongkorn’s birthday on 28 July and to “illustrate the king’s clemency”.

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