British tourists come forward about being attacked on Koh Tao in 2013

Photo by Valeriy Ryasnyanskiy for Unsplash

Many continue to contend that Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, the 2 Burmese young men convicted for the 2014 murder of 2 tourists on Koh Tao’s Sairee Beach, are innocent. Now 2 tourists who were attacked on the same beach, just a year before the murder, are now coming forward to help prove that the conviction could have been unreliable.

In September 2014, the bodies of British tourists 23 year old Hannah Witheridge and 24 year old David Miller were found on the beach. Police say Hannah had been raped and David had been hit several times on the head with a garden hoe.

Zaw and Wai were arrested soon after the killings. Some say the investigation was accelerated in an effort to gain back tourist confidence and keep visitors coming to the island. Numerous activists, criminologists, and others have spoken out against the conviction, saying the evidence was bungled.

Just a year before, British tourists Sam Venning and Carla Bartel survived an attack on the same beach. Sam, who was 22 at the time, was talking to Carla, who was 20, on the beach when 2 men wearing V for Vendetta masks attacked them, hitting Sam in the head with a rock.

Sam and Carla came forward to Thai officials after the killings to help with the investigation, but say no one got back to them. Sam says he had emailed the Thai Embassy in London, but no one contacted him. Carla says she contacted the UK Foreign Commonwealth Office who then passed her on to the UK National Crime Agency. She was told that the information was sent to Thai police, but officers did not follow up with her.


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Tanutam Thawan

Local Thai journalist speaking fluent Thai and English. Tanutam studied in Khon Kaen before attending Bangkok’s Chulalongkhorn University.


  1. Prospective visitors/tourists should factor this in before they decide to visit Thailand. Crime happens in most places, however, the Judicial system here is something else……

  2. This is only one of the numerous cases related to Foreigners injured or killed, never followed up in Thailand, even after consecutive requests from the countries of origin. Most of the time just closed without even a proper sentence. In this country is more important to hide quickly the evidences and make as nothing happened, rather than following all the correct criminal proceedings.
    This story will never end, because Thailand didn’t move on and thai people are not able to reach a fairer democratic society, with all its negative aspect dough, but at least a society which doesn’t hide such criminal offences.
    Good luck Foreigners who plan for a paradisiac holiday which turn into a horrible nightmare.

  3. Because they are busy to find foreigner who drink a beer. And if a Thai kill a cop or is a drug dealer it is ok if the brown envelopes are there, you can be even as a convicted heroine dealer a minister. And sure it must be a myanmar or foreigner who does wrong. For all their chaos they create they will always blame others never themselve because their mindset is same like from little children they dont know about self reflection, responsibility or even to become an adult.

  4. @Graham Smith

    You really do not understand why Thai tourists go to Thailand just because you might spend your two weeks holiday hanging around girly bars.

    40 million tourists go to Thailand each year the vast majority are couples, families and large groups, they do not go to girly bars, they go to 99.9% of the other attractions Thailand has to offer.

    The vast majority of the tourists are from China, Malaysia and other Asian countries, I have never seen any Asians sitting at girly bars, they are mostly European and Australians sitting there who make up just a fraction of the total tourists.

    You could try walking/trekking/cycling in the many national parks, swim in the sea, canoeing, diving, temples, restaurants, shops the list is endless.

  5. This government is corrupt evil dictators they will try and crush anyone who stands against them because they are bullies and the only way to beat these bullies is the Thai people to demonstrate in thier millions against them and bring a new dawn of freedom free speech and a police force to be proud of not mocked or ridiculed and disrupt ,guys and girls do I ask to much and is this just a wish that will never happen

  6. This will be a permanent stain on the image of Thailand. it’s a shame that two Thai murderers and rapists should harm the image of an entire nation but that’s what has happened. Although the Thai police and justice system have contributed greatly.

  7. The smaller the Island the more primitive the local. The resentment runs deep. We want your money but we hate you. We hate you and you should go home but pay us first. Having lived in Asia for 16 years as a white man the first go-to phrase by Asian men if there is the slightest conflict is “Go home, this isn’t your country” Not kidding, it has happened more than a few times over the years. To ‘have a white woman’ is a status symbol to many. Some will take it if they can, however, they can.

  8. Sam Venning, the guy from Somerset UK who survived this attack made several comments to me prior to recording an interview for my YouTube channel. He said: “It could have easily been me in that body bag.”

    Both Carla Bartel and Sam have interviews published on YouTube, which journalist Daniel O’Mahony discovered before he interviewed them and wrote his piece for the Mirror news service.

    Carla simply contacted me via my Facebook page dedicated to KOH TAO MURDERS as she had been keen to tell her story to people who would listen. I then looked up Sam Venning and interviewed him via email and zoom as well.

  9. My nephew lived and worked there for almost a year during the time of the “killing”. He said most foreigners living there knew that the 2 Burmese were innocent scapegoats, and the real killers were connected to the mafia family who ran Ko Tao. It’s not called Murder Island for nothing.

  10. Most foreign tourists do not encounter such tragic end,raped and murder.Each individual should decide where to visit safely and not ventured into less travelled locations,whereby safety is not assured.Some young travellers are more adventurous and car nothing about their own safety.They have a tendency to get intoxicated till the wee hours of the morning,including single lady travellers. That when something bad happens,they should bear part responsibility of their behavior or actions. Such tragic can happen anywhere,including countries considered safe.

  11. @Dreqo

    Yes 40 million, look it up. I am of course talking pre-virus years.

    @Kim Armitage

    I was having a house build in Mae Phim beach, Rayong in 2019 as a project to sell so I did go to Pattaya for day trips as Rayong is so boring as 95% of the tourists there are Thai who park the pickup on the beach, the family eat their own packed food and nothing every happens.

    Pattaya did open my wife and my eyes though.

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