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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 12:49 GMT
Fishermen admit Thailand murder
Katherine Horton and Ruth Adams (right) on Lamai Beach, Koh Samui on New Year's Day

Two men have appeared in court in Thailand and pleaded guilty to raping and murdering tourist Katherine Horton.

The trial of fishermen Bualoi Posit, 23, and Wichai Somkhaoyai, 24, who were arrested on Monday, is now due to start on Friday at 0900 local time.

The body of Miss Horton, 21, from Cardiff, was found in the sea off the island of Koh Samui on 2 January.

A post-mortem examination suggested she was raped and beaten before being left in the water to drown.

The preliminary hearing took place in Surat Thani on Thursday, the same day an inquest into Miss Horton's death was opened and adjourned in Cardiff.

The men were reported to have nodded affirmatively when asked by a judge whether they were guilty of rape and premeditated murder.

Bualoi Posit (left) and Wichai Somkhaoyai
The suspects appeared in court on Wednesday

Thai police said they confessed shortly after they were arrested off the coast of Koh Samui on Monday. Officers then confirmed that DNA evidence linked them to the murder of Miss Horton on the evening of New Year's Day.

Miss Horton had travelled to Thailand with a university friend for a two-week holiday.

She had been on the beach with a group of friends on 1 January, close to the bungalows they had rented, when she is said to have wandered away to speak to her mother on her mobile phone.

Her body was discovered some 12 hours later by a water biker in the sea off Lamai beach.

Bungalow accommodation on Lamai beach
Miss Horton was staying with a friend in bungalows on Lamai beach

Miss Horton's funeral will take place next Tuesday afternoon at St Isan's Church, in Llanishen, Cardiff, followed by private cremation.

Meanwhile, a service of prayer for Miss Horton took place on Thursday in the Palmer Building at Reading University where she was about to embark on her final year as a psychology undergraduate.

A book of condolence was available for signing at the lunchtime service where prayers were being led by Catholic chaplain Terry Burke and Anglican chaplain Mark Laynesmith.

Mr Laynesmith said it was an informal service that would "make a space" for people who might not know how to express their feelings.

Dave Lewis, president of Reading University student union, said students and staff were "deeply shocked and saddened".

He told BBC Wales: "At the moment our thoughts, our feelings really go out to her friends, her family and the people who met her - she'll be deeply missed.

"Katherine was a pleasure to be around. She loved doing her course, she loved being a student."

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