A British tourist has been killed on the Thai island of Koh Phangan, allegedly as a result of a stray bullet in a fight between locals.
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The Foreign Office issued a statement on behalf of the family of Stephen Ashton, who was killed in Thailand on New Year’s Eve:
As a family we are completely devastated by the loss of Stephen from our lives.
He has been taken away from us in such cruel and tragic circumstances in which he was an innocent bystander simply enjoying New Year celebrations.
We are comforted in the thought that he was having a fantastic time with friends after such a difficult period following the loss of his much-loved dad who passed away from a brain tumour in 2011 and the loss of his granddad a few months earlier.
We were all so proud of him; he was a much loved son, brother, grandson and nephew.
He will be truly missed by his family but also by the many friends he made during his life.
We cannot comprehend how someone can carry out such a reckless act, giving such little value to human life.
We ask that our privacy be respected to allow us to grieve.
Stephen Ashton's former school has sent their condolences to his friends and family in a message on its website:
It is with real sadness that we have learnt of the tragic death of Stephen, one of our former students, over the New Year. Our thoughts, and the prayers of many within our community, are with his family and friends at this difficult time.
Ekkapan Kaewkla is the man arrested by Thai police after British tourist Stephen Ashton, 22, was shot dead at a New Year's Eve party on a beach at Koh Phangan
Police said they had several witnesses and enough evidence to prosecute the 26-year-old suspect.
Thailand shooting victim Stephen Ashton, 22, was a regular at the Rectory pub in Brighton Road, Purley.
Deputy manager Matthew Hitchmough said:
He had been coming in here for quite some time, and was bubbly - he always had friends and girls round him.
I didn't know him particularly well, just to say a few words to, but he was a nice man - I can't say a bad word about him.
It's certainly a shock to hear this has happened, I know that a few of the people who come in go to Thailand for Christmas and new year.
Dawn Mason, a neighbour of Stephen Ashton, described the 22-year-old as a “very normal, likeable young man.”
“I went to the house today and the family just seem in complete shock,” she told the Times newspaper.
- Police arrested the 26-year-old suspect, who was thought to have gone into hiding on a mountain close to the beach where the shooting took place, around noon (local time) on New Year's Day, according to reports;
- The Bankok Post said the suspect denied firing the deadly shot but admitting being involved a fight with a group of men at Zoom Bar, where Mr Ashton was partying.
A man is expected to be charged with manslaughter following an arrest, police in Thailand said.
Police said British tourist Stephen Ashton was with a group of friends and 300 other tourists on New Year's Eve.
They were celebrating the countdown to 2013 at a pub and restaurant called the Zoom Bar when he was shot by a home-made gun at Haad Rin beach shortly after 4am.
The Bangkok Post reported that he was visiting the island with four or five friends and was staying at Pink Bungalow on Haad Rin.
Police in Thailand have arrested a man after a British tourist was shot dead at a New Year's Eve party when he was hit by a stray bullet as he danced with friends.
Stephen Ashton, 22, is said to have been at a beach bar on the paradise island of Koh Phangan. Police Colonel Kittakarn Kramomthong, chief of police at the island's station, said officers had arrested a 26-year-old Thai man and confiscated a gun.
This does seem to be a tragic case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. The man who died has been named as Stephen Ashton. He was just 22 and was celebrating the New Year at a beach party.
But the Foreign Office said it is not changing its travel advice to Thailand because it already contains a warning about the dangers of unprovoked attacks by gangs on the island of Koh Phangan.
Seven Britons have been killed in Thailand since 2009 and the death of 22-year-old Stephen Ashton from Redhill in Surrey, brings that total to eight.
The Foreign Office said it is not changing its travel advice to Thailand because it already contains a warning about the dangers of unprovoked attacks by gangs on the island of Koh Phangan. Members of Mr Ashton's family are being offered consular assistance, officials said.