Remembering the dead – Koh Tao dive master mystery

The island where dive instructors go to die

Twenty-three years before diving instructor Neil Giblin from Birmingham died on Koh Tao last month, a fellow Brummie diver lost his life there. Giblin is the fifth Koh Tao dive master to die on the island where Ian Jacobs, from Sutton Coldfield, died on January 18, 2000. Jacobs was found at the bottom of a well on the island.

Giblin was found deceased in a villa on Koh Tao on January 18, after he didn’t show up for work. Police say he died of natural causes with no sign of struggle.

BirminghamWorld has spoken to Jacob’s brother, Paul, and a friend Mick Lock. Neither believes his death was accidental.

Paul said…

“My brother was a traveller and he was always off around the world. We strongly suspected foul play at the time and we still do.”

Lock, who went to college with Ian, said…

“There was never really any doubt that he’d been murdered amongst me and all our friends.”

Ian was 35 when he travelled to Koh Tao. He visited the island after travelling to Bangkok for a friend’s wedding. The police report states that Ian’s body was found at the bottom of a well where he drowned in it. But Lock claims to have found evidence that disproves the verdict.

Lock went to Thailand himself in search of clues. He explained…

“Ian died from a blow to the head. I wanted to see the well to see if it was in any way possible for him to have fallen in it accidentally.

“When I got there it was quite clear that the well was of such a nature that it would have basically been very hard to fall in accidentally.”

Paul and Ian’s younger cousin Steve was also in Thailand for the cremation. Lock said that when he started to ask questions about Ian’s death, the chief of police asked him to stop and told him to leave the island as soon as possible.

Paul, Steve, and Ian were ready to search for more answers, but Ian’s parents wanted to move on. Paul said that they thought…

“Whatever we do, it’s not going to bring Ian back.

“Ian had a bit of money on him and when they found the body, there was no money. The police said they took it because that was the cost to transport his body back to the mainland – which I think, is not strictly true.”

Around 15 to 16 years after Ian’s death, Lock was in contact with a British woman who lived in Thailand and said she knew an eyewitness to the Koh Tao dive master’s death. Lock said she told him that his friend was found in a bit of concrete piping, not a well.

Paul said…

“There’s lots of inconsistencies in the police report which makes us believe that a lot of it is fiction.”

Lock believes that families on the island are being protected by the authorities and that the police are there to protect the tourism industry.

Another British traveller – Ben Harrington from Surrey – died on Koh Tao there in 2012. Police said the Koh Tao dive master broke his neck when he crashed his scooter. His family brought his body back to the UK for an autopsy. Ben’s mother told the Sun…

“Most of his bones were broken but the one bone that wasn’t broken was his neck.”

Crime NewsKoh Samui NewsSouth Thailand NewsTourism News

Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

Related Articles