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BEHIND the beauty of this island paradise lies a macabre secret. Many people have already died and another has just vanished.

news.com.au June 27, 20177:21pm
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      Myanmar Men Sentenced to Death for Tourist Murders1:30

      A Thai court sentenced two migrant workers from Myanmar to death for killing two British backpackers on the resort island of Koh Tao in September 2014. Photo: AP

      The white sand beach of Koh Tao hides a macabre secret.Source:Supplied

      IT’S an archipelago paradise so pristine, so perfect, it draws tourists from near and far.

      The island of Koh Tao, otherwise known as Turtle Island, is a scuba diver’s dream, and thanks to Sairee Beach, on the west coast of this Thai island, tourism has flourished in recent years.

      Adventure seekers rejoice in its spectacular underwater worlds, clear turquoise water and lush jungles, located in the Gulf of Thailand near the party islands of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui.

      But behind the beauty lies a macabre secret where local mafia allegedly rule, backpackers flock to party and, according to one report, there are “enough deaths and suspicious disappearances to warrant the island its own CSI franchise”.

      One local newspaper, The Samui Times, reported the island has been dubbed “Death Island” amid wild speculation regarding the cause of recent tourist deaths.

      The white sand beach of Nan Yuan Island, an eight-minute drive from Koh Tao, is one district that hides a macabre secret.Source:Supplied

      A series of unexplained events have created havoc for this island paradise and some now refer to this haven as a “tourist trap”. As body parts are found floating in its waters, and bodies pop-up in its swanky pools, some within this small, untouched part of the world fear a serial killer is on the loose.

      “Koh Tao can be paradise but it can also be extremely dangerous for the unwary,” wrote Australian lawyer Ian Yarwood.

      “Potential tourists to that island need to be warned and not given a sense of false security.”

      The island is reportedly controlled by ruling families where residents can “very occasionally ... disappear.”

      “The mafia here aren’t the sort who carry guns in violin cases, or knock on doors extorting people. They’re the families that go back for generations, and who ran the islands before the police even got here,” one resident told the Guardian.

      Koh Tao was plunged into the spotlight when the semi-naked bodies of backpackers Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found on a beach. Witheridge was raped before she was murdered.

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      The body of one of the slain British tourists, Hannah Witheridge, wrapped in plastic sheet, is carried at a forensic police facility in Bangkok, Thailand. Picture: Sakchai LalitSource:Getty Images

      Hannah Witheridge, who was found murdered on island of Koh Tao, Thailand in September 2014.Source:AAP

      David Miller aged 24, was found alongside fellow victim Briton Hannah Witheridge.Source:AAP

      Their battered bodies were discovered on the southern diving resort of Koh Tao in September 2014.

      In the hours after the bodies were found, officers failed to seal off the crime scene or close the island’s port.

      Gruesome pictures of the victims’ bodies also quickly emerged online, piling on the misery of their distraught families.

      “Having been on the scene at the murders of David and Hannah, I can say that it was one of the most gruesome I have ever attended,” Steven Drylie, and ex-serviceman and paramedic in the Koh Tao Rescue Association, told the Samui Times.

      Despite claiming the island was a safe haven, the Times published text messages from Mr Drylie that claimed: “Did he hit his head while diving? No, unless he bounced off the bottom of the pool several times ... I don’t think it was intentional, I think there was a fight.”

      Myanmar migrant workers Zaw Lin (R) and Wai Phyo (L) are escorted by a Thai police officer after they were sentenced to death at the Samui Provincial Court, on Koh Samui Island. Picture: Rungroj YongritSource:Getty Images

      The trial of two Myanmar migrants accused of the murders has faced heavy scrutiny in a case that sullied the kingdom’s reputation as a tourist haven and raised questions over its justice system.

      Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Tun were found guilty and sentenced to death for murdering the pair of British holiday-makers.

      Investigators were accused of failing to properly collect and preserve DNA samples and declining to test key pieces of evidence, such as Witheridge’s clothes.

      “He (David) was hacked down from behind, dragged into the sea and left to die. That will live with us forever. What happened to Hannah Witheridge is unspeakable,” Michael Miller — the brother of the slain David — said outside the court.

      A friend of the victims fled the island soon after the killings, claiming that he had been threatened by local mafia who were trying to set him up, according to the Asian Correspondent.

      Before running away, Scotsman Sean McAnna wrote a desperate message on his Facebook page: “Thai mafia are trying to kill me. Please help me.”

      MIA Riya Riya MIA MIA MIA BlackTaupeWhite Riya Riya BlackTaupeWhite BlackTaupeWhite BlackTaupeWhite Riya BlackTaupeWhite MIA The police were also accused of torture when the accused in the case of Mr Miller and Ms Witheridge said they were beaten and forced to sign confessions which they later withdrew.

      Less than two weeks later, another body appeared at the same beach that the bodies of Ms Witheridge and Mr Miller were found.

      The body of British bricklayer Luke Miller, 24, was found at the bottom of a hotel swimming pool at Sunset Bar on Sairee Beach after spending the prior night drinking with friends.

      Luke was no relation to David Miller, but suspicion was aroused that Luke’s death was somehow connected to the first deaths.

      Mr Miller flew to Thailand on December 22, 2015, with his friend James Gissing and was to spend five weeks on holiday.

      Mr Gissing and his sister, Nichola, calling for a boycott of the island, claiming their friend’s death was no accident.

      “Our friend was murdered in Koh Tao on January 8. He was beaten and dumped into a swimming pool at Sunset Bar on Sairee Beach. I know this message will probably be removed but if one person sees this who is considering going to Koh Tao my advise to you is don’t. If you do decide that you want to risk your lives despite the inherent dangers,” Nichola reportedly posted days after the death.

      “The island is dangerous and you are not safe going anywhere alone, even in pairs you are not safe. Safety in numbers at all times. I am telling you this from personal experience. I do not wish for anyone to go through the pain and horror of losing a loved one in similar circumstances.”

      The night of his death, Mr Miller became separated from his friends and his body was discovered the next morning.

      Earlier this month, a coroner concluded there was “no evidence” to suggest Mr Miller was murdered on January 8, 2016. But those close to the case, along with Mr Miller’s family, have vowed to find answers in a death that raises more questions than it answers.

      “It has been suggested this was a cover-up by the Thai authorities but there has been a very thorough police report,” Coroner Caroline Sumeray told the BBC.

      “I can only record a conclusion based on the evidence before me, I cannot speculate about what may have happened.”

      Luke Miller, left, in black. The British backpacker who was found dead in a hotel pool on the island of Koh Tao in Thailand. Picture: GofundmeSource:Supplied

      Friends say police were covering up the death of Luke Miller. Picture: SuppliedSource:Supplied

      A post mortem carried out on Mr Miller’s body in Thailand revealed he had died from head injuries and subsequently, drowning.

      But in a statement, Mr Gissing said “police were covering up as it was the death of another foreigner on Koh Tao”.

      Luke’s mum, Sara, said there were “far too many inconsistencies in the police reports” and vowed to uncover the truth.

      “We know what happened and we will continue to fight for justice. Luke was unlawfully killed.”

      The cases are just two bizarre stories out of this island that seems to be growing a stockpile of sordid stories.

      Valentina Novozhyonova, 23, vanished from her hostel on Koh Tao in mid-February, sparking a huge police search.

      A few days later, staff checked her room to discover her mobile phone, passport and camera had all been left behind.

      Valentina Novozhyonova, 23, vanished from her hostel on Koh Tao in mid-February.Source:Facebook

      The Samui Times speculates that six weeks ago, “the body of a young girl was found partially burnt, eaten by animals and partially wrapped in T-shirts”.

      In 2015 the body of a French tourist was found outside his bungalow. The death of Dimitri Povse, 29, was ruled a suicide, with police saying there were no signs of a struggle and a suicide note was left in the room, according to local media site Thai PBS.

      However a photo claiming to show the man’s hands tied behind his back emerged, sending social media sites into a flurry of suspicion.

      Another British holiday-maker, 25-year-old Nick Pearson, was found dead in the water with his death ruled a drowning after falling.

      His parents suspect otherwise, in part due to a large gash found on his head.

      “He would never have gone swimming of his own accord,” his mother Tracy said.

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      MIA BlackTaupeWhite Riya BlackTaupeWhite BlackTaupeWhite Riya MIA MIA Riya BlackTaupeWhite BlackTaupeWhite Riya MIA Riya MIA “And if he’d fallen from his bungalow, 50ft down (15 metres), his body would have been stopped by the rocks or badly injured.

      “He didn’t look like someone who had been in the water for hours — there was still dried blood on his face.”

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