June 20 2013 Latest news:
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
A tourist from south London has been gunned down at a New Year’s Eve party in Thailand after it is believed he was caught up in a gun fight between local gangs.
Stephen Ashton, 22, whose family lives in Purley, is said to have been killed as he danced with friends at a beach bar on the island of Koh Phangan.
He is thought to have been caught in the crossfire when a fight started between two local gangs at Haad Rin Beach.
A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of the death of a British national in Thailand on New Year’s Eve and we are providing consular assistance to the family.”
Police Colonel Kittakarn Kramomthong, chief of Koh Phangan station, told the Bangkok Post that Mr Ashton was with a group of friends and 300 other tourists at the 2013 countdown party at a pub and restaurant called the Zoom Bar when he was shot by a home-made gun shortly after 4am.
The newspaper said Mr Ashton was visiting the island with four or five friends and was staying at Pink Bungalow on Haad Rin.
Tributes have been paid on social networking sites as friends expressed their shock at hearing the news.
Jaydon Gibbs said on Twitter: “My heart is with his family. The nicest guy RIP Stephen Ashton xx”
Another Twitter user, Dean DeRosa, said: “Worst news for the start of 2013 ! R.I.P Stephen Ashton ! Was a good lad !!”
Neighbour Dawn Mason, 48, described Mr Ashton as a “very normal, likeable young man”.
His family moved to Purley about three years ago, she said.
“They’ve always been very nice neighbours.
“If Stephen or his sister Emily had parties, they’d always be at the house with their parents so they knew where they were.
She added: “I went to the house today and the family just seem in complete shock.”
Mr Ashton’s mother, Diane, is flying back to the UK from a skiing trip following news of her son’s death, Ms Mason said.
Mr Ashton’s family said they were too distraught to speak tonight at their home.