[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 5 January 2006, 20:45 GMT
Family's grief on holiday island
Penny Roberts
Penny Roberts
BBC Wales
on Koh Samui, Thailand

Christopher and Ian Horton, Ruth Adams
Katherine Horton's brother and father Christopher and Ian, and her friend Ruth Adams
Ian Horton has made the most difficult journey any parent could face.

He arrived here in the Thai resort of Koh Samui to visit the beach where his 21-year-old daughter Katherine was murdered on Monday.

He was joined by his son Christopher and by Ruth Adams, Katherine's friend who was sharing with her what should have been a dream new year holiday.

As police hunt his daughter's killer, Mr Horton now hopes to return her body home to Wales with dignity and privacy.

The temperature on Lamai beach today, where Katherine, from Cardiff, had been staying, was 32C (90F), and very humid.

Please help me
Ian Horton's appeal to find his daughter's killer

The huts where Reading University friends Katherine and Ruth stayed cost just a few pounds a night. They are really basic, with a couple of mattresses on the floor, and right on the beach.

But Koh Samui is also full of good restaurants, it's a spa centre, and hotels can charge high prices. It caters for all types of tourists.

It is relatively quiet now. It's a typical beach scene, ringed by huts, bars and restaurants. It's quite crowded, but it's not tacky.

Katherine Horton
Katherine Horton was last seen phoning her mother on 1 January

The people I've spoken to are shocked by what has happened, but there is no sense that it is particularly dangerous here. The feeling is that something like this could have happened anywhere.

There is some concern, however, about the reaction of the police.

Lucrative tourist trade

One tourist, a Swede called Dag Lind, was in the hut next door to Katherine's. He told me he was worried about his girlfriend, and concerned that Thai officers did not seal off the beach quickly or completely enough.

He was also very surprised that nobody from the police had come to talk to him sooner about what he might know.

If a murder like this happened in the UK, the entire beach would have been sealed off immediately. But this is a developing country and it's quite clear Thai Police don't operate to the same standards.

Dag Lind
Swedish visitor Dag Lind is critical of the police response

I believe the Thai Police are very conscious that a tragic death like this can affect the lucrative tourist trade.

They are also very aware of the initially bungled investigation of the murder of another Welsh tourist, Kirsty Jones, 23, from Tredomen, near Brecon, who was raped and killed at a guest house in the north of Thailand five years ago.

Kirsty's murderer has never been found.

There were very many senior policemen here today and Mr Horton very publicly thanked them for what they were doing.

Mr Horton's preference was to stay here in Koh Samui for the night but consular officials and Thai authorities persuaded him to go to Bangkok.

It was felt that it would be easier for him given the large media presence and the level of interest from around the world.

Koh Samui
Tourists say a murder like this could have happened anywhere

Mr Horton did not lay a wreath outside the bungalow where Katherine had been staying. It is understood that he went to the spot where his daughter's body was found some half a mile away.

He was shaking as he came to a news conference where he paid tribute to his daughter and appealed for help to find her killer.

It was obviously extremely harrowing, but he wanted to talk about "my little girl" who has been lost forever to her family and friends.

As he struggled to contain his emotions, his appeal was heart-rending. "Please help me," he said.

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific