Sister, 30, of murdered backpacker Hannah Witheridge dies

The family of murdered backpacker Hannah Witheridge has been hit by a fresh tragedy with the sudden death of her sister.

Laura Daniels, 30, died in hospital on Monday just five years and one day after her sister Hannah, 23, and fellow traveller David Miller, 24, were murdered on a beach in Thailand.

Last month it emerged that two Burmese migrants convicted of the murders faced execution after appeals against their conviction were thrown out.

Miss Witheridge’s parents Tony and Susan Witheridge announced Laura’s death today, saying they had been left in ‘indescribable’ pain.

Laura Daniels (pictured, right), 30, died in hospital on Monday just five years and one day after her sister Hannah, 23, and fellow traveller David Miller, 24, were murdered

Laura Daniels (pictured, right), 30, died in hospital on Monday just five years and one day after her sister Hannah, 23, and fellow traveller David Miller, 24, were murdered

Laura Daniels (pictured, right), 30, died in hospital on Monday just five years and one day after her sister Hannah, 23, and fellow traveller David Miller, 24, were murdered

David Miller (pictured with Hannah) was killed in Thailand while the pair were travelling together five years ago

David Miller (pictured with Hannah) was killed in Thailand while the pair were travelling together five years ago

David Miller (pictured with Hannah) was killed in Thailand while the pair were travelling together five years ago

They said in a family statement: ‘We confirm that our beautiful girl Laura passed away on Monday, September 16.

‘Laura had been gravely ill and was being treated in hospital. Our hearts are broken, our lives are shattered once more.

‘The pain of this loss is indescribable and our family very much need time and privacy during this unbearable time.’

Ms Daniels is understood to have got married this year. The reasons for her admission to hospital have not been disclosed.

Hannah (pictured) died while travelling in Thailand and today her family announced the tragic death of her sister

Hannah (pictured) died while travelling in Thailand and today her family announced the tragic death of her sister

Hannah (pictured) died while travelling in Thailand and today her family announced the tragic death of her sister

Miss Witheridge of Hemsby near Great Yarmouth, Norfolk, was raped before she and Mr Miller from Jersey were battered to death with a hoe on a beach on the island of Koh Tao on September 15, 2014.

Burmese migrants Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo, both 25, who were working on Koh Tao were convicted of the murders and Hannah’s rape on December 24,2015, and sentenced to death.

The pair insisted that they were innocent and claimed that their earlier admissions were as a result of being tortured.

Defence lawyers also claim the evidence and DNA in the case had been mishandled, making it unreliable.

But last month their final appeal against their conviction was dismissed by the Supreme Court in Thailand which ruled that the forensic work was handled by respectable institutions and there was no proof of torture.

Immediately after the hearing, the two migrants appealed to the families of Miss Witheridge and Mr Walker, asking them to co-operate in seeking a royal pardon from the Thai king.

An inquest into the death of Miss Witheridge which was held in Norwich in February 2016 heard how her family described her as ‘a fun, vibrant and beautiful young woman’.

Her parents who are separated had pleaded with not to go on her backpacking trip to Thailand because they feared for her safety

Mrs Wotheridge, 61, said in a statement how the lives of her family had been ‘changed forever’ by her murder.

She said that Hannah had originally planned to go to Europe or Australia before making a late decision to go to Thailand.

Mrs Witheridge said: ‘The family had always been against Hannah going on the trip and tried to persuade her out of it. None of the family was happy with her going there, but she had made her mind up.’

Her daughter had tried to allay her fears by talking to them by Skype or sending messages every day, she said.

Mrs Witheridge paid tribute to her daughter, saying: ‘She was a beautiful and fun loving woman who filled the room with love and happiness just by being there.’

‘There wasn’t a bad bone in her body. She achieved so much and had so much more ahead of her. Our family is broken and will never be the same again.

‘It will never make any sense. The fact that she is not here, affects us every day.’

Home Office pathologist Dr Nat Cary said Miss Witheridge had died from severe head injuries, consistent with multiple blows from the blade of a hoe wielded as a weapon and it was likely she would have died ‘rapidly’.

Dr Cary also said there were signs that Hannah had been dragged and sexually assaulted. He found no evidence of defensive injuries.

Norfolk coroner Jacqueline Lake recorded a conclusion that Hannah had been unlawfully killed.

She sympathised with Hannah’s family for their suffering over her ‘tragic and unnecessary loss’.

Hannah died shortly before she was due to start the second year of a speech and language masters degree at the University of Essex.

She graduated from the University of East Anglia with a degree in education in 2012.

The family of Mr Miller from St Helier, Jersey, who was battered and drowned said after the trial of the migrants that they accepted the verdict.

But Ms Daniuels criticised the ‘bungled’ police investigation into the murders in a Facebook post in January 2016.

Her post which was later removed suggested she believed that the two convicted men might be innocent.

Ms Daniels also revealed at the time that she had been targeted by death treats and sent disturbing photographs of the murder scene.

She spoke out last November at the sentencing of sadistic troll Paul Hind, 38, who was jailed for 14 months at Newcastle Crown Court.

The court heard he set up a fake Twitter profile in Hannah’s name which Laura described as ‘cruel, completely inaccurate and callous.’

Laura revealed previously how her family had been ‘drop-kicked into the pits of hell itself’ when Hannah was murdered.

She appeared at the Norfolk Safer Community Awards (NOSCAs) in Norwich in 2016 when a new award was presented in memory of Hannah acknowledging the work of police family liaison officers.

She said that following her sister’s death even the simplest of tasks had become impossible and said the officers assigned to their family had helped them through their darkest hours.

Some £17,000 was raised by a Go Fund Me donation page set up by Laura to enable the family to attend the trial in Thailand and pay for an interpreter.

Writing poignantly on the page she said: ‘The past year has thrown our lives into disarray, tarnished our trust in anything and everything and made us question humanity.

‘On my darkest days, I think about the people who have thrown themselves out of planes, run significant distances and those who have sacrificed precious pounds from tight budgets to support us.

‘It is in these selfless acts of kindness that I see reason to keep putting one foot in front of the other.’

Mr Miller’s father told ITV News that he did not want the Burmese migrants to be executed even though they ‘have done something quite terrible and justice has been given to them’.

ends

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