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Two senior officers from Dyfed Powys police made the remarkable breakthrough by matching the DNA found on the sarong used to strangle her with a Thai suspect. It is thought that an arrest could even be made later this week much to the relief of Kirsty’s parents, Glyn and Sue Jones, who have been distraught that no one has been brought to justice for the death of their 23-year-old daughter.
Armed with the scientific evidence, Superintendent Steve Wilkins and Detective Inspector Steve Hughson will travel to Bangkok tomorrow to meet with the Royal Thai Police detectives who drafted them in last year in a bid to track down the killer.
Senior police sources told The Mail on Sunday that forensic scientists in Wales carried out DNA tests on evidence taken from Kirsty’s room in the Aree guest house in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand, where she was found dead in August 2000.
Traces of the killer’s semen and skin cells were found on the sarong that was used to strangle the university graduate from Tredomen, South Wales. They said ‘Thanks to some very complex scientific tests we have a result that is positive. We have got the breakthrough that is needed in seeking the killer of Kirsty Jones,’ said a source. ‘We are taking that evidence out to Thailand where it will hopefully give the police the identity of the person responsible and lead to an arrest. ‘This development can only be good for Kirsty’s family who have waited a long time for this.’
Mr and Mrs Jones said last night that they did not want to comment on the latest developments. But a family friend said: ‘As far as they are concerned, this is part of an ongoing investigation. They are staying in touch with the police about developments.’ At the time of Kirsty’s murder, the Royal Thai police were accused of bungling the investigation. Officers failed to seal off the scene of the crime and vital evidence could have been contaminated.
They arrested Andrew Gill, the British owner of the guest house, and charged him with conspiracy to rape and murder with a person unknown. The 33-year-old had not called police immediately after the discovery of Kirsty’s body because, he later admitted, he was worried about being arrested as his visa had run out. But Mr Gill was later released after the State Attorney decided that there was insufficient evidence to proceed to trial. Crucially, there was no DNA to link him to the scene of the crime and he is now back in Britain.
The manager of the guest house, Surin Chanpranet, was also quizzed and another eight suspects were asked to give DNA samples, but all were cleared of being involved. Then, last September, the Thai police accepted an offer of assistance from Dyfed Powys police, in particular with forensic tests. Officers returned from Thailand with samples from the murder scene, including the sarong.
Kirsty had set off on a round-the-world trip in May 2000 after graduating from Liverpool University. She had always wanted to travel and began her adventure in Singapore and Malaysia before moving on to Thailand. It was there that she planned to meet her best friend, Rhianne Williams, and the two were going travel together for a month.
Kirsty then intended to go on to Bali and Australia to meet up with her boyfriend who was working in Sydney. But she was alone when she stayed at the cheap and seedy guest house in the hills of Chiang Mai.