Murdered backpacker’s sister dies at nine weeks pregnant in ‘double tragedy’

A family have been left devastated after a pregnant woman died in a “double tragedy” – five years after her sister was murdered in Thailand, an inquest has heard.

Mystery still surrounds the death of Laura Daniels, 30, with doctors saying “no one knows” what caused the tragic 2019 incident despite extensive medical investigations, her family was told on Wednesday, August 11.

She tragically died at Southampton General Hospital on September 16, 2019 – five years after her sister Hannah Witheridge was found dead on a beach in Thailand.

Hannah was found dead alongside fellow traveller David Miller on September 15, 2014, with authorities saying both victims had been hit several times on the head.

But the death of her sister remains a mystery with a post-mortem examination unable to ascertain a cause of death for Mrs Daniels, a paediatric nurse who lived in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

Her death while pregnant was a “double tragedy”, area coroner Rosamund Rhodes-Kemp said.

Recording an open conclusion at the inquest in Winchester, she said: “Given the post-mortem findings it is very difficult indeed to come to any conclusion other than open and that is because no one knows quite why Laura died when she did.

“No one knows, and that must be one of the hardest things for families and friends – for a young person to die and for despite all the investigation, all the inquest process we end up simply not knowing.”

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The inquest, which began last month and finished on Wednesday, heard that Mrs Daniels had a complex medical history and had undergone numerous surgeries and treatments at various hospitals over the years.

On September 16, 2019, she was found unresponsive in hospital shortly after speaking to staff and was pronounced dead.

In a heartfelt statement read out by the coroner, her husband Lewis Daniels said: “Laura was an incredible young lady who had so much desire to continue making the most of her life whilst having to deal with adversity very few people across the world will ever have to experience.”

He described the impact the tragic murder of Miss Witheridge had on the family, and how Mrs Daniels “spearheaded the fight for justice for her sister”.

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He added: “Life was never going to be easy or the same again, we shared difficult times but we found happiness together.”

Mrs Daniels went on to qualify as a paediatric nurse and the pair were married in 2018.

The bodies of Miss Witheridge and 24-year-old David Miller, from Jersey, were found on the resort island of Koh Tao in 2014.

They had arrived in Thailand separately and met at the hotel where they were staying.

Two Burmese migrants who were convicted over the killings had their death sentences reduced to life imprisonment in 2020.

Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin had denied killing Mr Miller and raping and killing Miss Witheridge.

Lawyers for the two men had claimed evidence used in the case against them was mishandled and they made confessions under duress that they later retracted, raising questions about police competence and the judicial system in Thailand.

Human Rights Watch at the time called the verdict “profoundly disturbing”, citing the defendants’ accusations of police torture that were never investigated and questionable DNA evidence linking them to the crime.

But Thailand’s Supreme Court upheld the convictions.

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