BANGKOK – Two Brothers from the UK have been questioned by Thai police over the brutal murders of fellow tourists David Miller and Hannah Witheridge.
Christopher Ware and his older brother Jimmy, who were travelling around South East Asia with Mr Miller, were detained in Bangkok and asked not to leave the country while DNA tests were carried out on the two victims.
Mr Miller, 24, an engineering graduate from Jersey in the Channel Islands and Miss Witheridge, 23, a qualified speech therapist from Great Yarmouth, were bludgeoned to death on a beach on the Thai holiday island of Koh Tao.
Thai detectives are hoping DNA evidence taken from the victims could help unlock the mystery and have said they cannot rule out the involvement of fellow British tourists.
But Mr Ware, a carpenter, who has known Mr Miller since childhood and is one of his closest friends, has told sources at home in Jersey that he fears he is being “stitched up” by the police who are under immense pressure to solve the double murder.
In a phone call to friends back home he denied any involvement and said he feared he was being set up.
The father of one of his close friends, who was also friends with Mr Miller, said his son had spoken to Mr Ware by telephone yesterday.
He said: “The Thai police are going to stitch Chris up. They will try and blame it on anyone they can.
“My son and his girlfriend have spoken to Chris today.
“From what I’ve heard the police said to Chris that they wanted him to stay not because he was in trouble but because he was so upset they didn’t want him to travel.”
Friends of Mr Ware insisted he and Mr Miller were incredibly close and suggestions that he might be responsible for his death were unbelievable.
Aaran Higgins, 24, who went to Haute Vallee state school in St Helier Mr Ware and his brother said: “I’m very good friends with Chris and Jimmy.
“Chris is a lovely bloke. He and Dave are best mates you see, they are brilliant friends and I don’t know what has happened.”
Siobhan Philippe, another friend of Mr Ware added: “Chris is a very popular person on Jersey. They are all lovely people. He is a decent guy and would never ever do anything. Dave would never screw over a friend and the Wares are exactly the same.”
But Thai police insisted they were keeping an open mind in relation to the murder, with suggestions that the motive may have been connected to a love triangle which went tragically wrong.
A spokesman for the Royal Thai Police said the Ware bothers had been questioned about the deaths along with 11 Burmese suspects.
The brothers were questioned on Koh Tao shortly after the murders and were then allowed to leave the island for Bangkok.
Police Colonel Kissana, deputy police spokesman, said: “We have spoken to two British men but they have not been detained. We cannot rule them out. They were close friends and knew all about the victims.
“We have got to do whatever it takes to obtain concrete evidence.”
Police are examining the possibility that Miss Witheridge was raped during the attack and are waiting on the results of DNA evidence.
Detectives are also thought to have recovered samples of hair from Miss Witheridge’s hand, suggesting she may have tried to fight off her killer.
The two victims were discovered semi-naked on Sairee beach just yards from where they had been staying separately.
Both had suffered deep wounds to the head and face according to witnesses who found the bodies and a blood stained garden hoe was discovered nearby.
Major General Pornchai Sutheerakune, head of the Thai Institute of Forensic Medicine, said post-mortem examinations had shown Miss Witheridge died from head wounds while Mr Miller died from severe blows to the head and drowning.
Mr Miller also suffered wounds on his hand, indicating a struggle had taken place, police said.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We are aware of reports that the Thai police have spoken to British nationals in connection with the case. The investigation is a matter for the Thai authorities.
“We stand ready to provide consular assistance if required.”