Katherine Horton was killed after taking a stroll on a beach in Thailand
By Andrew Drummond and Sophie Kirkham
A BRITISH student was murdered after she went for a stroll along a tropical beach in Thailand to make a mobile phone call
Katherine Horton, 21, a psychology student from Cardiff, was travelling with a friend from Reading University and had been on the resort island of Koh Samui for only a few days.
It is thought that Miss Horton was attacked after leaving her friend and walking alone along the white sand beach to chat in private, possibly to her mother in Cardiff, on Sunday evening.
Her body was found the next morning in shallow water off Lamai beach by jetski operators. Local news reports said that she had been raped.
Speaking from Thornhill, Cardiff, her mother, Elizabeth, said yesterday that her daughter had already called home once to wish her family a happy new year: 'That was the last we heard of her. She sounded so happy out there.'
Miss Horton was with Ruth Adams, also 21, on a two-week backpacking holiday. They met up with friends, one of whom rang Miss Horton's parents yesterday to break the news. The pair had flown out on December 27 and were staying at the Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â£10-a-night New Hut Bungalow resort on New Year's Eve. Staff said they had seen the two women together on Sunday night outside their bungalow, and had found out that Miss Horton had been killed only when police arrived.
Miss Adams, who is said to be inconsolable, was last night still helping the authorities. She told police that they had been sitting on the beach in front of the bungalows at 9pm when Miss Horton received a call from her family on her mobile. She then strolled along the beach as she spoke to her relatives while Miss Adams returned to their bungalow and fell asleep. It was not until the next morning that she realised Miss Horton was missing.
Her body was found a short while later. One witness said there were signs of severe injuries to her head and shoulder. Local television footage showed her body slumped on the beach wearing a dark green T-shirt. She appeared to have bruising on her left shoulder.
'I can't believe she's gone. It just doesn't seem real, it doesn't seem possible,' her mother said last night. 'They were really looking forward to [the holiday] and were very excited. But nobody seems to be able to tell me how she has died or what has happened to her. I just want to know what happened to my little girl. They were just going to travel around backpacking before coming home to carry on with their studies. She was such a lovely girl.'
Miss Horton, who had been due home on January 10, had two older brothers.
Her father, Richard, who also lives in Cardiff, was said to be devastated.
Koh Samui is popular with backpackers, families and budget travellers, and is known for its nightlife and beach parties, often held under a full moon. In recent years there have been reports of rise in crime in the southeastern Thai island, with the appearance of local gangs. Women travellers have complained of being harassed.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office says it had received reports of sex attacks on men and women and advises: 'Female travellers in particular should maintain a high state of personal awareness in Thailand.'
- Vanessa Arscott, 24, and her boyfriend