A young British holidaymaker was killed by a stray bullet at a New Year’s beach party in a popular Thai tourist destination.
City trader Stephen Ashton, 22, was dancing on the sand when he was caught in crossfire following a fight between two groups of Thai men. Despite frantic efforts by his distraught friends and other revellers, he died soon afterwards at a local hospital.
Mr Ashton, who is understood to have been on holiday with five friends, had travelled to one of the top locations on young Britons’ gap year wish list – Haad Rin beach on Koh Phangan island. Mr Ashton was just enjoying the festivities at the Zoom beach bar when tragedy struck.
According to local reports, 300 tourists were dancing shortly after 4:00 in the early morning on New Year’s Day when two groups of Thai men, each half a dozen strong, began arguing, then fist-fighting. As one of the groups fled the bar, one man turned back and fired a gun, leading to panic.
One bullet struck Mr Ashton in the torso, causing devastating injuries. After first aid by partygoers failed, he was sent to the Ban Don hospital nearby, which has only elementary surgical facilities, and was later pronounced dead.
Local police officer Lieutenant Colonel Somsak Noorod said: ‘He was shot in the side while he was dancing on the beach.’ Thai police named their suspect as Ekkapan K., 26, and arrested him yesterday afternoon in remote hills in the centre of the island. He is said to have had a home-made gun, which was allegedly the weapon used. He was reported to have admitted being in the fight, but denied firing the fatal shot.
Colonel Kittakarn Kramothong, head of the island’s police station, said: ‘Stephen was not involved in the fight. The gun used was home-made.’ Mr Ashton had been staying at the Pink Bungalow complex nearby with his friends. Just a fortnight ago he had posted on Facebook a photograph of himself and two companions in a Thai bar.
Mrs Ashton, 48, was on her own New Year holiday abroad and was last night understood to be on her way to formally identify her son’s body in Thailand.
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- June 19, 2014: "Thai man who shot dead Briton Stephen Ashton during Full Moon Party on Koh Phangan jailed for 34 years" (standard.co.uk)