British couple shot dead by Thai policeman after restaurant row

A THAI policeman ran down a British tourist in his car and shot her dead after murdering her boyfriend following a row in a town on the banks of the river Kwai.

Vanessa Arscott and Adam Lloyd were visiting the popular tourist destination of Kanchanaburi when they were killed.

Authorities in the area yesterday issued a warrant for the arrest of a police officer suspected of murdering them.

Ms Arscott, 24, and Mr Lloyd, 25, had been travelling in Thailand for about two months and had been due to return home to Britain shortly.

Police said the couple had been involved in a violent argument with a man at a restaurant in the town, 100 miles north-west of Bangkok.

"We don’t know what the argument was about, but after Adam and Vanessa left, this man followed them on the way back to their guesthouse," said Inspector Milind Phienchand, of the tourist police.

"He followed them in his car. He shot Mr Lloyd three times - once in the head, once in the arm and once in the body.

"He tracked Ms Arscott for 200 metres and hit her with his car. Then he shot her once in the head and once in the chest."

Police found the pair early yesterday morning after hearing gunshots. Attempts to resuscitate them failed and they were declared dead on arrival at hospital.

Police are now trying to find Sergeant Somchai Wisetsingh, 39, who the authorities believe was responsible for the double murder.

The couple had been eating at the S&S restaurant, which is owned by Somchai, and the officer’s bloodstained car has been impounded at Kanchanaburi police station.

Staff from the British embassy visited the town yesterday to collect the couple’s passports and personal belongings from the Sugar Cane guest-house, where they had been staying.

Its owner, Ratchada Charoentesith, said: "The couple came here, booked a week and paid in advance. They came here basically to sleep at night and left after breakfast in the morning."

The guest-house offers rooms with a view of the bridge over the River Kwai built by British prisoners and Asian labourers during the Second World War and made famous in the movie starring Alec Guinness.

Mr Lloyd’s mother, Linda, who described her son as "a lovely lad", revealed that he had been due to fly home last week but was unable to get a flight.

Mrs Lloyd, who runs the Buckingham Lodge Hotel in Torquay, Devon, with her husband, Brian, said: "He and Vanessa had been travelling together for two months. It was something that he always wanted to do."

Mr Lloyd had been living with his family before he went away. His mother said: "He had been away since July and was due home on Saturday. He had been due to come home last week but could not get a flight."

Ms Arscott’s parents, Joyce and Graham, of Ashburton in Devon, paid tribute last night to their "beautiful and vivacious" daughter.

In a statement, they said: "Vanessa has been snatched from the love and safety of our family in circumstances which we find impossible to comprehend. Vanessa was a joy in our family and about to embrace life’s big adventure with both hands.

"She had met her boyfriend, Adam, and together they had a strong and lovingly supportive bond and were planning to live their lives as a couple.

"Our family’s heart goes out to Adam’s parents. We know how proud of Adam they were and he was dearly loved, so we know exactly the awful emotions they are all feeling today.

"They, like us, have to remember the joy and excitement shining in Adam and Vanessa’s faces when we all went to the coach station to see them off on their great adventure."

Ms Arscott’s grandmother, Eileen Arscott, of Kingsteignton, south Devon, said: "I’m very distressed." Her granddaughter, who was studying health and fitness at college, used to stay with her at weekends. "We were very close," she said.