British tourist Thailand death, ‘no evidence’ of murder

Luke Miller left the UK in December 2015 for a holiday in Thailand - Image/Miller Family

There is ‘no evidence’ a British backpacker who was found dead in a swimming pool in Thailand was murdered, a coroner has concluded.

Luke Miller, 26, of the Isle of Wight, died on Koh Tao island in January 2016.

Coroner Caroline Sumeray said: “It has been suggested this was a cover-up by the Thai authorities but there has been a very thorough police report.”

British backpackers Hannah Witheridge and David Miller were murdered on the same island in 2014.

Luke Miller and his friend James
Luke Miller was travelling in Thailand with his friend James Gissing – Image copyright MILLER FAMILY

Mr Miller, a bricklayer from Newport, travelled to Thailand with his friend James Gissing on 22 December 2015.

His body was found at the bottom of the pool at the Sunset Bar at Sairee Beach on 8 January 2016.

Mr Gissing and his sister Nicola Gissing – who joined the friends in Thailand from Australia – were initially told by local police he was seen to be assaulted at another bar the night before he was found dead, and they were treating the case as murder, the inquest at Newport heard.

However, Ms Sumeray said the police contact could not be relied upon as there was no confirmation a man they spoke to was a Thai police officer.

She said the man later told the friends via WhatsApp messages that police no longer believed Mr Miller had been “fighting” or was murdered.

Sara Cotton
Luke Miller’s mother Sara Cotton wept when the coroner gave her conclusion

In a statement read to the court, Mr Gissing said he felt “police were covering up as it was the death of another foreigner on Koh Tao”.

The hearing was told a witness described a man banging heads with another swimmer but Ms Sumeray said there was no evidence this was Mr Miller.

The court also heard Mr Miller lost the key to his rented motorcycle in the Sunset Bar pool a few days before his death, and despite searches to find it had paid the 5,000 baht (£114) fee for its replacement.

A post-mortem examination in Thailand showed Mr Miller had a number of small bruises on his face and legs and concluded he died as a result of head injuries and drowning, the inquest was told.

Toxicology tests showed he was one-and-three-quarters above the UK alcohol drink-drive level and also had traces of the drug Ritalin in his system.

Ms Sumeray said: “I can only record a conclusion based on the evidence before me, I cannot speculate about what may have happened.”

At the conclusion, Mr Miller’s mother Sara Cotton wept and said: “I want my son.” – BBC

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