As Thai police admitted that all DNA testing had failed to find a match in the investigation into the murders of Hannah Witheridge and David Miller a young Scots musician and busker TODAY fled the island saying he believed the mafia were trying to kill him.

Convenience store

Sean McAnna, 26, from, Shotts, Lanarkshire, made the allegations on Facebook at 4am after he fled and took refuge in a 24 hour convenience store on the island and posted a picture he took of his alleged pursuers.

He also identified whom he believed was one of the killers.

And he asked for Sky Television to phone him. McAnna was quickly given consular advice and protected by friends until he caught a ferry off the island later in the day. His posts were taken down.

Sean McAnna later revealed how he slept all night in the jungle and then for a while around 7 am this morning under a snooker table in a bar.

In the early hours of the morning he had been drinking in a beach bar when he was accused by two Thais of being the killer he was allegedly the guitarist in a group of people singing on the beach on the morning of Hannah and David’s murders.

You have blood on your hands, they said adding that he should be strung up and hanged from a tree.  He fled the bar and took refuge in the convenience story pursed by the two men, he said. That’s when he took the picture.

McAnna with his smartphone

“They just said to me, ‘It was you who killed them. You’ve got two people’s deaths on your hands. We know it was you. You’re going to hang yourself tonight and we are going to watch you hang. You die tonight’.

“So I just ran. I just left and ran.”

“I genuinely thought that I was going to die. I genuinely thought that this was me dead.

“They wouldn’t have shot me, they would have taken me up into the hills to hang me and make it look like it was a suicide.

“I was so scared. I just didn’t want that to be it. I told my mum I loved her and that I would try to make it home.”

He said he did not really know if any of the two men were the killers, but they might have known who did it.

From a rock near where the bodies of David and Hannah were found he also earlier wrote a long message which could have come from Alex Garland’s ‘The Beach’ about a group of backpackers who think they have found paradise but instead found a nightmare.

“ It’s not the island I used to know….. But I know Koh Tao will continue to be the paradise island it always was. Especially now. 

“I’ve spoken to girls who are heart-broken about this, but have said that nothing will stop them living the free, island life. 

“ And fair play to them, this has been the first westerner’s killing in a decade. And will be the last, hopefully.

“It’s a life we know and will always attempt to strive for”.

In just a few minutes Koh Tao was no longer a paradise island for Sean McAnna. Now he has told Andy Lines of the Daily Mirror – ‘I’ll never go back’.

Conincidentally ‘The Beach’ a novel by Alex Garland, which became a backpackers bible and Hollywood film starring Leonardo di Caprio, stars a group of backpackers who find their paradise island in Thailand  – only to find it is run by gangsters and their lives are endangered.

Although McAnna has received consular advice he is reported to still be frightened and foreign reporters watched him leave on a ferry.

McAnna had previously been identified as the ‘guitar man’ in a group of people singing on the beach on the night of the murders whom, police wanted to identify/

There has always been a fear that if local mafia were involved police would be powerless to do anything.

But Thailand’s Premier General Prayuth Chan-ocha has promised no cover-up.

McAnna’s figure of one murder in ten years does not convey the real picture. The last foreigner to be murdered about ten years ago was a confrontational dive resort owner who upset the local system.

The Samui Archipelago is not exactly positioned in a sea of tranquility as even the Foreign Office points out in its travel advisory.

And a short term resident foreigner who had strived for the island life but left Koh Tao somewhat disillusioned to write a blog entitled ‘Koh Tao – The Murky Truth’ stating there were several killings..murders.

“After a few weeks on the island, we found out that Koh Tao has a dark underbelly in the form of locally powerful mafia-like families that own many of the businesses and make sure that they get the cream of the profits that tumble into Koh Tao. In the fairly short time we were there, several people were killed – that is, murdered. We even heard the crack of a gunshot on one occasion. 

“It seems that on this island you really don’t want to say the wrong thing about the family head or sell drugs without their permission. Even people that merely go there and open a shop or cafe that thrives can become a target and, allegedly, new businesses sometimes mysteriously burn down during the night.”

And on the neighbouring island of Koh Phangan – the scene for Thailand’s infamous ‘Full Moon’ Parties – an editorial in the Koh Phangan News  headed: ‘Koh Phangan – The Island of Natural Born Killers – listing a wide range of people who had been murdered there including foreigners.  Plenty reports of murders. No reports of trials except that for the fishermen who murdered and raped Katherine Horton on Koh Samui.

Most of the pirates who abused and murdered Vietnamese boat people in the 70’s are believed to have come from southern Thailand port of Songkhla and the Samui Archipelago.

A United Nations High Commission report into pirate attacks found that 349 had been attacked by pirates an average of three times each. 578 women had been raped; 228 women had been abducted; and 881 people were dead or missing.

Meanwhile a 28-year-old man is under arrest after was reported to police because he was living in a cave in neighbouring Laem Yai on the island of Ko Samui,

He had worked on tour boats to Koh Tao and was acting suspiciously, said police, and he was questioned overnight on Koh Tao but he had denied any connection to the murder.

The man, who worked on local speed-boats, was tested for drugs, having been described as a ‘yaa baa’ (methamphetamine)  user.  Police have also taken DNA samples. It is understand he is being held on drugs charges.

Yesterday police said they were concentrating on a Thai man and a migrant worker as the main suspects.

Below Sean McAnna singing ‘Paradise in the Sand’

COMMENT: Well now this investigation has come to a very interesting point. The entire British press corps is aware there is or are several ‘island mafias’ on Koh Tao – but of course will the Thai Police admit it. 

I do not think they can. This is a country in denial. Besides if there were, police would have eradicated them. Right?

Yes. Just as prostitution and living off immoral earning is illegal in Thailand the country does not officially admit it exists.

So far they have busy DNA testing  migrant, foreigners, (even Sean McAnna) and have promised to DNA test the whole island. 

However the Kirsty Jones case in Chiang Mai has already shown that they can get a perfect DNA profile of the killer and still not find him. 

The person against whom Sean has made the allegations, even down to the chasing bit, will deny everything however whoever took the picture was clearly hiding behind a counter.  

In the meantime here is an island denial I have edited out the names.

Still puzzles me why one of the most honest decent individuals on the island would chase McAnna to a local convenience store and then with his mate peer over the counter. Did they just want to buy a packet of cigarettes?


  1. Oh for Goodness sakes Andrew, why give bandwidth to this nonsense. Thai islands, akin to any Thai community in the South or parts of Isaan, are clannish and insular and have been for decades, if not centuries. Families gain supremacy and exert their power for their own ends. Disputes are invariably settled without reference to police but either through immediate violence or negotiated settlememt. That gormless, spaced out beach junkies from the West should only discover this, disturbing their fatuous and facile belief in some sort of paradise, is simply testament to their ignorance and cultural stupidity.

    Honestly, who cares what a dozy feckless farang has to say about anything.

    1. What are you talking about. This is a barbaric murder investigation going on and as usuall in Thailand if important people are involved it can be covered up for ever with the victims or their families never getting the justice they deserve. Andrew is reporting what may become a central part of the investigation, it may not but it has to be reported, would you rather it got buried? By the way its now also front page news in Scotland http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk/news/uk-world-news/scot-goes-hiding-thai-island-4302708

  2. คนป่าเถื่อน (khon paa thuan) is the word needed here. It translates to savages or savage. I have a lot of relatives in the South, they always say these island people haven't evolved much and you have to be very careful going to these places. These people are extremely territorial. So many young Thai hoppers are on the 'ice' and that drug turns anybody into an evil bastard very quickly.

  3. I remember from a trip to Samui that mainlanders even regards the locals as island folk and different from other Thais. Don't think many people pick up on this. Doesn't mean they're any more sinister, of course.

    This Scot seems to an attention seeker though. If the locals are gossiping about who did the crime I can't see them confiding in someone like him…

  4. Well the late night news now has the police saying they are looking at a 7 man beach soccer team that was on the island that night. Apparently they are trying to track down team members.

  5. The Koh Tao FB page that you copied the quote from has now deleted all references to the murder. As well as calling for the Scottish guy to be imprisoned (really), and passionately defending all the local Thai strongmen, it also had one of those irritating threads claiming that 'falangs can never understand Thai'. I kept a copy. Here it is:
    "What the Prime Minister has said about tourists and "bikinis"…. This is not what he means at all.
    The Generals statement has been lost in the translation, and certain Thai words which he has used is very difficult to translate into English.
    This has caused many people to speak out badly against him. You can not translate Thai to English word by word, The Thai language is filled with many feelings, different words can be presented in a different manner depending on the feeling of those words…
    He cares very much about this case and for the country,its people including tourists and those of us who live here." 75 people like this.

  6. The Koh Tao FB page that you copied the comments from has now deleted all references to the murder. As well as slagging off the Scottish guy, and anyone who dared question the integrity of the local Thai strongmen, it also had a long thread with one of those irritating 'falang never understand Thai' themes. I kept a copy:
    "What the Prime Minister has said about tourists and "bikinis"…. This is not what he means at all.
    The Generals statement has been lost in the translation, and certain Thai words which he has used is very difficult to translate into English.
    This has caused many people to speak out badly against him. You can not translate Thai to English word by word, The Thai language is filled with many feelings, different words can be presented in a different manner depending on the feeling of those words…
    He cares very much about this case and for the country,its people including tourists and those of us who live here." 75 people like this.

  7. Lest there be any confusion, my comments about Sean concerned his somewhat idealised notion of an existence on an Asian island as described by one whom may be forgiven for thinking a tad shallow. Any actual evidence he may have had and germane to the investigation is of course welcome.
    There is often talk of Mafia in relation to Thai. This is not helpful since most understanding relates to Cosa Nostra, the Camorro or a bunch of Italians in the US.
    Thai create networks. They are their government. Police cadres, army, political, civil service and commercial. In most cities, provincial towns and amphur there are families which have established power bases and benefit from networks of power. Allegiances shift according to power and fortunes but loyalties within close groups, and especially families remain strong. Island families and those in the South rural areas are particularly clannish and usurp any notion of what we Europeans may consider central or devolved authority.
    To call these family groups in the islands a Mafia is silly simplistic nonsense. They are the demography of the economies there, and have existed for years. These families in the past 30 years have developed wealth from the tourist boom and through that enjoy an established authority. That some of their children develop into spoilt, thuggish and brutal idiots is simply a fact of life. Once consequences have to be faced there is always going to be a conflict – the family will wish to protect but with modernity comes compromise they must accept. Assuming the perps are local and connected and are eventually identified then they will be prosecuted. The problem with the Thai idea of consensus and compromise is that once incarcerated such members of these families will be released rather sooner than otherwise in the West or if they were not related.
    Thailand is medieval in many ways and one just has to accept that. To pretend this country is, or was, a democratic developed state with a rule of law commensurate with established international conventions is quite simply stupid.

    1. "That some of their children develop into spoilt, thuggish and brutal idiots is simply a fact of life" is a bigger issue than you seem to think. It's not only true of the localised, bar-and-resort-owning families that have ""have developed wealth from the tourist boom", it's also the children of the national-level players, who have developed global-level wealth through, for example, the property boom in central Bangkok. These are the people leading the PDRC / PAD etc (and a few on the PT side too – think of Chalerm's spawn). They are 21st century in every regard – except the mental one.

    2. That does not stop them being called mafias, for that is what they are. Thailand is a feudal plutocracy attempting to copy parts of a democratic model. Its culture and worldview will play a part in that development – it already has. It will, many years hence maybe, be a Thai version of democracy hopefully without the undemocratic influences of power politics and lobby groups with vested interests hell bent on ignoring the vots in ballot boxes.

  8. No, you are wrong here and if lay folk reading this are to gain a proper understanding of the society in which these crimes took place then it is important to make distinctions.
    A " Mafia " is a proscribed organisation formed to gain power and wealth by criminal means. Thai society is structured in such a way that some semblance of order must prevail if it is to survive. This resolves in practice to cronyism, adherence to the cult of " class " viz army, police civil service cadres and establshed families which approximate to clans. There are Mafioisi in Bangkok which proliferate through extortion, loan sharking, the street lotteries and levies extracted from illegal street hawking, However, they are so deeply embedded within the economy of the city through corruption within the BMA and police one could reasonably conclude such organisations are institutionalised and as such an integral part of Thai society.
    These islands are home to clan families and their will is paramount but to label them as Mafia is simplistic nonsense. Koh Samed is run in pretty much the same way with three families having supremacy and if anyone else should intrude against their interests then they will get short shrift.
    As I have said before, the culprits may well be apprehended but to think their family will give them up easily is to ignore reality. Entrenched vested interests underpinning social structures within wider society are evidenced everywhere in the world , the American Deep South a classic case in point, but to label them as Mafia is stupid.
    Thai provincial society is a government onto itself but it does serve a purpose in promoting commerce etc within the region albeit in a way that will favour their own interests first.
    The Headman of any village, moo baan or whatever is an important feature of local government. – that he is selected from a society dominated by certain family groups is no different to any other democracy and is certainly not a Mafia. By all means, call them that if it helps you to reduce matters to a level you may find more comfortable for your comprehension but it is quite, quite wrong.

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