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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 August, 2003, 17:50 GMT 18:50 UK
New backpacker murder hunt
Kirsty Jones
Kirsty Jones was on a lone backpacking trip
Welsh detectives are helping in a new attempt to track down the killer of backpacker Kirsty Jones, three years after her death.

The 23-year-old from Tredomen, near Brecon, mid Wales, was three months into a two-year trip around the world when she was raped and murdered in the Aree guesthouse in Chaing Mai, in northern Thailand, in August 2000.

A number of men have been arrested but released without charge and the murderer remains at large.

Dyfed-Powys Police officers have now been asked to interview a number of key witnesses in Britain, and international crime agency Interpol will carry out a worldwide search of DNA databases.

The force first became involved in the investigation in September 2001 after Kirsty's family became frustrated at the way Thai police were handling the hunt.

They don't put the same importance into getting any anything done as we would over here
Kirsty's mother on the Thai police

Officers then flew to Thailand to help collect samples for testing which were brought back the UK for DNA profiling of the killer.

Relatives were furious that local police had failed to seal off her bedroom at the hostel, allowing vital forensic evidence to be contaminated.

Speaking to BBC Wales on Thursday, Kirsty's mother Sue criticised the Thai police for not making better progress.

"They're very slow," she said. "They don't put the same importance into getting any anything done as we would over here.

"Every step is a small piece of progress, but it still seems we are an awfully long way off from us actually getting justice."

Not long after Kirsty's murder, Thai police arrested British-born guesthouse owner Andrew Gill, 33, after releasing a number of other suspects.

Kirsty Jones' parents
Kirsty's parents have been frustrated by lack of progress
But he had always vehemently denied any involvement in Kirsty's death and was subsequently released without charge.

DNA tests on 11 suspects had ruled them out of any direct involvement in her death, leaving Thai authorities with no real suspect.

Then in February last year, five Thai police officers in January who were arrested in connection with the murder were released following the results of DNA tests.

Heavy criticism

And suspicions that a Thai police officer could have been repsonsible have now been ruled out.

The Royal Thai Police have come under heavy criticism for their handling of the inquiry which culminated with the chief investigator being removed from the case because of the lack of progress.

A new Thai police officer has been appointed to lead the investigation.

Detective Inspector Steve Hughson, of Dyfed-Powys Police said officers from Brecon were preparing to fly out to further the investigation.

"We have a piece of Kirsty's killer in the DNA profile and we must ensure that the momentum of this inquiry is maintained within Thailand and that every effort is made to identify her killer and help her parents to understand why this tragedy happened," he said.

Interpol has confirmed it will be asking all countries which have DNA databases to carry out a search for matches, but Thailand does not have such a system.

The Welsh detectives will also interview four key witnesses who were in or near the guest house at the time of the killing.




SEE ALSO:
Thai backpacker's parents' plea
07 Aug 01  |  Wales
Paradise city for backpackers
11 Aug 00  |  UK News
'New leads' in Thai murder hunt
01 May 02  |  Wales


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