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Published on Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Murdered backpacker is daughter of holiday park boss


A woman hacked to death on the Thai island of Koh Tao was the daughter of a man who runs a Norfolk holiday park, Carefree Holidays.

The bodies of Hannah Witheridge, 23, from Great Yarmouth, and 24-year old David Miller from Jersey were found on a beach in the early hours of Monday morning.

Since the grim discovery, the island, close to Koh Samui, has ceased ferry services and closed its port to try to stop the killer of the two backpackers escaping. The Tourism Authority of Thailand has warned this might impact on other travellers.

A TAT spokeswoman said: "We understand this to be an isolated incident and is very much out of character for an island which is much loved for its quaint atmosphere.

"Local authorities have begun a thorough investigation and have put restrictions in place for the time being to prevent anyone (potential suspects) leaving the island.

"This may have an impact on tourists' travel plans so we suggest they contact their travel agent, tour operator or chosen hotel for further advice if they are currently on, or are due to travel, to the island in the next few days.

"Our thoughts and condolences are with the families and friends affected by the news."

Police initially said they were hunting a British man in connection with the murders, but they did not name their suspect. They are understood to have since switched their suspicions to the island's immigrant Burmese community.

Hannah's father, Tony Witheridge, runs Carefree Holidays, which runs self-catering parks in Hemsby, Newport and Winterton on Sea near Great Yarmouth and the Norfolk Broads.

It is believed that Hannah and David did not know each other when they first arrived in Kao Toa separately at the end of August but could have become friends later on.

They met while staying at the same seaside hotel, where they also become friends with a third British traveller, and all three arranged to go out together on Sunday night, according to the local officers.

The bodies of the pair were found hacked to death, hidden behind rocks, and a blood stained hoe was found nearby.

TAT said that while Koh Tao was not on the main tourist trail, it was popular with backpackers and those with a keen interest in snorkelling and diving.

It added: "Koh Tao, and other beach and island destinations across Thailand, remain safe for tourists to travel to."

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