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One year ago the body of British holiday maker Luke Miller was found in the swimming pool of the Sunset Bar in Koh Tao. According to both the police and the owners of the Sunset Bar his death was caused by misadventure when a drunk or possibly drugged Luke climbed on top of a DJ stand and dived into the pool. However, Luke’s travel companions did not swallow this story and neither did anybody else who could not understand why a party goer would make such a jump when it was obvious nobody was watching. The body of Luke Miller was not discovered until the following day. Also cause for concern where the injuries to Luke’s face the police suggested were caused by the barbed wire Luke would have had to climb over to make his jump, yet this seems to the rational mind to be simply another reason why the ‘jump’ story makes no sense what so ever.
A Thai post-mortem on Luke, 26 and from the Isle of Wight say he drowned but made no mention of bruises that resembled hand prints found on the upper part of this body.
There has been much speculation about what happened on that fateful night. We do know that CCTV footage places Luke at the Sunset Bar until the early hours of the morning, however security guards did not find him in the pool when they made their rounds at 5.30am the following morning, in fact his body was not discovered until around 7.20am. The Samui Times was also told just after his death that Luke was not a swimmer and would never have got into the water alone. He also had an altercation over a lost motorbike key from the moped he was renting only hours before his death.
Speculation also rose with regards to his surname being Miller, eerily the same as David Miller who was found dead on the same beach over a year earlier with Hannah Witherdige. Many people wondered if there was a connection and if he could have perhaps been mistaken for a member of David’s family out in search of the truth. Surnames became widely adopted in Thailand as recently as 1913, so it follows that Thai’s with the same surname are generally closely related, however, most Thai nationals would not know that the English have used surnames for centuries or that Miller is by no means an unusual name, therefor it would be very easy for any Thai to assume the two were closely related.
While there is no proof that Luke Miller’s death was foul play rather than misadventure, like his namesakes death there has been endless speculation. While two Burmese migrant workers sit on death row for the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller all but a handful of people, who have followed the case, believe they are anything other than scapegoats being used to hide the true culprits of the crime thought locally and internationally to be members of a highly influential family on the island. Koh Tao has been an outpost for decades attracting millions of divers from around the world providing a vast income for the families who own the vast majority of the businesses and land on the island. Often called mafia the actual mentality of those in power is more akin to a tribal culture with chiefs taking care of their own business way before police, courts and laws ever came to their shores. Koh Tao has long been run and policed by the influential families on the island and until recently it seemed to work very well. But with the unexplained deaths of so many young travellers eyebrows have been raised.
The body of British Nick Pearson was found on the same beach on New Year’s Day 2014. In this case the police claimed that he fell 50 feet to his death but his family are not buying it. Nick had no broken bones from his supposed fall and his father had seen him to his room the night before, it was still locked when is body was discovered floating in the ocean below. A year later on New Year’s Day 2015 a 29 year old French national was found hanging at his bungalow that overlooks the same beach, his hands tied behind his back. The police were quick to put this down to suicide despite evidence showing it would be almost impossible for the man to have hanged himself the way he was found without the use of his hands.
In 2012 32 year old British Ben Harrington was found dead on Koh Tao as a result of a traffic collision on his motorbike, however his heartbroken mother Pat spent over 18 months fighting for information with regards to her son’s death unconvinced it was an accident.
In November 2015 Swiss national Hans Peter Suter went missing while snorkelling. Despite having just completed his Divemaster course and being a strong swimmer. When a body matching his description washed up off the coast of Koh
Tao the mystery appeared to be solved, however it was not the missing diver. A second body was discovered a few days later across the gulf near Khanom, this body, also about the right size and nationality, also turned out not to be his. His body did eventually wash up several days later near Chumphon, however nobody ever established who the first two bodies belonged to.
Another British Girl was also found dead in a bungalow on the same beach in January 2015, this time it was 23 year old British Backpacker Christina Annesley, an aspiring writer. Her death was put down to natural causes by the Thai police, who believe she had overdone antibiotics for a chest infection. Her father aired his concerns about her death and the police investigation on a Channel 4 documentary this year.
While many will pay tribute to Luke Miller on this very sad anniversary including the Samui Times, who have the grim task of reporting so many untimely deaths on the island, our hearts also go out to so many families who have lost young loved ones and are still utterly dissatisfied with the Thai police investigations and to this day question what really did happen to those young travellers who went out in search of adventure who lost their lives on a tiny island that has had way more than its fair share of death in recent years, so much so that on social media sites it has been dubbed ‘Death Island’.