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Last Updated: Tuesday, 3 January 2006, 23:28 GMT
Grieving family fly to Thailand
Katherine Horton
Katherine Horton was last seen phoning her mother
The family of a British backpacker found dead in water at a Thailand beach are heading to the country as a murder inquiry continues into her death.

Thai police said Katherine Horton, 21, from Cardiff, was attacked with a blunt instrument and left to drown on the resort island of Koh Samui.

The Reading University student was last seen phoning her mother on 1 January.

Her father was flying to Thailand from Wales, while her brother was travelling to the country from Australia.

Family loss

The family issued a statement, saying: "Katherine was much loved by all her family and friends. We will miss her warmth, her vivacity and her passion for life."

Map showing location in Thailand where the body was found
The student had arrived on the island on New Year's Eve

Her parents Elizabeth and Ian, and older brothers, Richard and Christopher added: "She brought us so much happiness and words cannot express the emptiness we feel at our loss."

Miss Horton's body was found on Monday morning in the sea by a water biker.

Major Thanongsak Aksornsom, chief investigator on Samui island, said Miss Horton had been dead "for less than 12 hours".

"It's unlikely that this case was an accident but so far we have not issued an arrest warrant and are not interrogating any suspects," he added.

Her body was being transferred to Bangkok on Tuesday.

Police support

Following a post-mortem examination, a forensic scientist said her clothing was dishevelled; she had head and other internal injuries and bruising on the arms.

A family liaison officer from South Wales Police flew out to Thailand with Ian Horton but will not be involved in the Thai investigation.

"The officer has been sent purely to act in the capacity as a family liaison officer and it is stressed that the intention is not to question or undermine in any way, the investigation already under way by Thai Police," a police spokesman said.

Miss Horton, who was due to return home next week after a couple of weeks in Thailand, was with friends on Lamai beach on the evening of 1 January.

She is reported to have wandered away from them as she spoke to her mother on her mobile phone.

It is not known what happened to her between then and the discovery of her body.

Student's 'passion for life'
03 Jan 06 |  Wales
Country profile: Thailand
28 Oct 05 |  Country profiles

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