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The mother of Kirsty Jones, the backpacker from Powys who was raped and strangled in Thailand in the year 2000, is calling for more help from the Foreign Office for the relatives of those killed abroad.
Sue Jones is upset that she has had no response to a Freedom of Information request to have the murder investigation files released and supported a protest by about 20 families in a similar situation outside the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London on Wednesday. The FCO said it would meet with any family who had concerns about deaths overseas. She was unable to attend the protest in person.
Mrs. Jones said that she has been trying to persuade the FCO to release the documents that relate to her daughters murder in Thailand for the last six months but government officials in the UK were claiming that the information could harm diplomatic relations and prejudice a future court case. Mrs. Jones said “ As far as I am concerned the biggest problem the Foreign Office have is communication, they can only do as much as they are allowed to do but claiming that these documents could damage diplomatic relations is ridiculous, all we want to know is what happened and we want justice. I think sometimes the FCO and the UK government could push a little bit more with their counterparts abroad. They must understand that all we want is closure. ”
Kirsty Jones was a graduate of Liverpool university who was on a two year round the world trip. Just three months into her trip she was killed in Chiang Mai. Since that day her mother has been working tirelessly to bring her daughters murder to justice and has even came to Thailand last year with members of the Welsh police to help publicize a ten thousand pound reward for information leading to an arrest. But despite numerous appeals the killer has never been found.
Every year over 6,000 British nationals die overseas and the FCO offers to provide consular support to each and every family in conjunction with a ranger of partners that include the police and the coroner service. An FCO statement said that The FCO will meet any family who is concerned about a death overseas. This is an incredibly difficult time for any family and the FCO has teams of trained professional in the UK and across the world ready to offer their support. It went on to say that the investigation of the death of any British national is a matter for the judicial process of the country of death, and their systems must be respected just as the UK expects other countries to respect their systems.
Kirsty was just 23 when she was killed in the Aree Guest House just a block away from the popular Somphet Market in the old city in Chiang Mai. The guest house has now been renamed Man House and few who stay there could ever imagine the tragedy and subsequent media circus that went on there thirteen years ago.
For many around the world it was the first time they had ever heard of Chiang Mai and their perceptions were influenced to believe that Chiang Mai was a dangerous place and it took over a year for the tourist figures to bounce back.
It was a story that was hard to ignore, a pretty young post graduate on her gap year, or in this case two, gets raped and strangled in her one pound a night guest house in a quaint little town. Although many screams are heard from accommodation such as this, nobody does much about it assuming it is simply a lovers tiff. The next day the media arrived and trampled the scene making any kind of forensic examination possible and then announce that Kirsty was killed when consensual sex went wrong and even suggested that she was murdered for refusing anal sex!
Speculation ran wild over this case and some said there were multiple types of sperm at the scene that suggested a gang rape. The DNA that was identified was said to be Asian in origin and this turned every Asian male at the guest house immediately into a suspect, several of them turned out to be drug dealers or drug addicts but nobody was convicted of this crime. One of those suspects assaulted a reporter claiming that the police had taken “dick prints” that is a fingerprint of his penis and the tension and embarrassment reached boiling point when the police promised to find the killer in ten days.
Thought the body was reported to the police at 4pm one of the guest house workers admitted alter that she had found the body at ten in the morning and had been specifically instructed to check the room by the establishments owner. Anybody with any kind of travel experience knows that it is far from customary to investigate a room two hours before checkout time.
The owner of the Aree, also from the UK, had an alibi for this apparent cover up. He said his visa had expired two years earlier and he faced a jail term if the police showed up to investigate. He said he needed to try to bribe the immigration department before the police arrived, but instead he was thrown into jail and considered the prime suspect. After two months with no evidence for a conviction the police released him after he paid a one million baht bail bond, he then promptly fled to France.
In the vacuum that followed, two incredible hypotheses were put forth. The first was that there had been no rape, that the sperm had been procured elsewhere and inserted into the victim’s vagina. This has happened before in Thailand, a technique to throw investigators off the scent. Police investigators even tested the hypothesis by sending agents out into the streets to buy fresh semen – they returned successfully two hours later. But subsequent British investigationsdeemed this impossible. Apparently, there is some characteristic quality that distinguishes sperm that has been ejaculated and sperm that has been injected. The British Home Office has insisted ever since that a genuine rape took place, the murder occurring concurrently as she was strangled with a sarong. The fact that two transvestites admitted two years later to supplying the sperm (not their own) was dismissed without explanation.
This year Dyfed-Powys police were given permission to forensically review evidence collected by Thai officers and Sue Jones says she is confident the case will be solved thanks to scientific improvements. Dyfed-Powys Police and Ms Jones’s family believe developments in the Thai DNA process could also lead to a breakthrough.
“The DNA process in Thailand isn’t as advanced as in the UK but it is growing,” said Det Supt John.
“The number of people going on the DNA database in Thailand is growing. They have also taken DNA samples from prison inmates with certain convictions. That’s ongoing.”
Mrs. Jones said “I don’t suppose I ever will know why, but as her mother I believe that there remain many unanswered questions and stages of the investigation that need to be followed up and thoroughly investigated by the Thai authorities.”