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Thai king commutes death sentence for Myanmar men in British tourist murder case

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thai king commutes death sentence for myanmar men in british tourist murder case

Two migrant workers from Myanmar on death row in Thailand for the murder of two British backpackers had their sentences commuted to life in prison, their lawyer said.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were sentenced to death for the murder of David Miller and the murder and rape of Hannah Witheridge. 

Their bodies were discovered on a beach on the popular tourist island of Koh Tao in September 2014.

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were sentenced to death for the murder of two British backpackers had their sentences commuted from death to life in prison on Friday

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were sentenced to death for the murder of two British backpackers had their sentences commuted from death to life in prison on Friday

Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun were sentenced to death for the murder of two British backpackers had their sentences commuted from death to life in prison on Friday

The two men were convicted and sentenced in 2015 and the verdict was upheld by an appeals court in 2017 and the Supreme Court in August 2019 but have their sentences were change to life in prison on Friday thanks to a royal decree.

The convictions were mired in controversy with supporters of the two men arguing that they had been framed and that they had initially confessed to the crimes under duress.

Their sentences will be reduced to life imprisonment after a royal pardon decree was published on Friday, their lawyer Nakhon Chompuchat said.

The migrant workers from Myanmar were jailed for the murder of David Miller and the murder and rape of Hannah Witheridge (pictured) in 2014

The migrant workers from Myanmar were jailed for the murder of David Miller and the murder and rape of Hannah Witheridge (pictured) in 2014

David Miller

David Miller

The migrant workers from Myanmar were jailed for the murder of David Miller (right) and the murder and rape of Hannah Witheridge (left) in 2014

‘The two are eligible under a section in the royal pardon decree to get their death sentences reduced to life imprisonment,’ Nakhon said.

‘They will also have a chance to get their sentences reduced further on good behaviour.’

The decree published on Friday said the royal pardons were granted to commemorate the king’s birthday on July 28 and to ‘illustrate the king’s clemency’.

It was not immediately clear how many prisoners were eligible for pardons or reduction of sentences under different criteria listed in the decree.

Aw Lin's mother Phyu Shwe Nu submitted a plea for clemency from the Thai king in 2019 (she is pictured holding a pictured of her son earlier this month)

Aw Lin's mother Phyu Shwe Nu submitted a plea for clemency from the Thai king in 2019 (she is pictured holding a pictured of her son earlier this month)

Aw Lin’s mother Phyu Shwe Nu submitted a plea for clemency from the Thai king in 2019 (she is pictured holding a pictured of her son earlier this month)

In 2019, Zaw Lin and Win Zaw Htun’s mothers have submitted a plea for clemency from the Thai king Thursday, in a case tainted by claims of irregularities – saying the confessions by the pair were obtained under duress. 

Their defence lawyers have also said the evidence used to convict the two men was unreliable as authorities had mishandled DNA and did not allow independent analysis of the samples.

Defence appeals were exhausted in August and a royal pardon or commutation of the death sentence by the Thai king is the last chance of a reprieve.

‘We are not challenging the judgement. We are saying that by giving them the death penalty, they will lose the opportunity to do something good with their lives,’ lawyer Nadthasiri Bergman said at the time.

In the request Zaw Lin and Wai Phyo have pleaded for ‘compassion from the king,’ Andy Hall, advisor to the legal defence team, added. 

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Britain’s woodlands face a deer invasion as lockdown lessens the demand for wild venison

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britains woodlands face a deer invasion as lockdown lessens the demand for wild venison

Britain’s woodlands face being overrun with deer because the market for wild venison has collapsed.

The deer population is now estimated at two million – its highest for 1,000 years – but cheaper meat from abroad, coupled with falling demand during the Covid lockdown, means there is no incentive for the traditional cull.

Experts say the excess deer numbers will result in trees and native plants being destroyed, especially in areas such as Thetford Forest, Norfolk, and the New Forest in Hampshire.

Demand for wild venison had already been lowered at the beginning of 2020 because of cheaper, farmed imports from New Zealand, Spain and Portugal. But the lockdown of restaurants, hotels and cruise ships made matters worse, essentially closing the market. Now the UK has a glut of deer and no incentive for the usual cull. The animals started venturing into residential areas as traffic reduced during the lockdown, pictured here in Romford, England.

Demand for wild venison had already been lowered at the beginning of 2020 because of cheaper, farmed imports from New Zealand, Spain and Portugal. But the lockdown of restaurants, hotels and cruise ships made matters worse, essentially closing the market. Now the UK has a glut of deer and no incentive for the usual cull. The animals started venturing into residential areas as traffic reduced during the lockdown, pictured here in Romford, England.

Demand for wild venison had already been lowered at the beginning of 2020 because of cheaper, farmed imports from New Zealand, Spain and Portugal. But the lockdown of restaurants, hotels and cruise ships made matters worse, essentially closing the market. Now the UK has a glut of deer and no incentive for the usual cull. The animals started venturing into residential areas as traffic reduced during the lockdown, pictured here in Romford, England.

They have called for a campaign to promote the eating of venison, saying it could be a regular alternative to beef or chicken.

Each year some 600,000 deer need to be killed to control the UK population, but the amount stalkers are paid for carcasses has fallen from about £2.50 to £1 per kilo.

Demand had already dropped at the start of the year because of cheaper, farmed imports from New Zealand, Spain and Portugal.

Then the lockdown of restaurants, hotels and cruise ships effectively closed the market, and game dealers still have enough in cold storage to last until next year.

Experts say the environment in areas such as Thetford Forest, Norfolk, and the New Forest in Hampshire are particularly at risk because of the rising deer population, and have called for a campaign to promote eating more venison. Here deer are pictured in Dagnam Park as they rest and graze in a patch of woodland outside homes on a housing estate in Harold Hill, near Romford (file photo).

Experts say the environment in areas such as Thetford Forest, Norfolk, and the New Forest in Hampshire are particularly at risk because of the rising deer population, and have called for a campaign to promote eating more venison. Here deer are pictured in Dagnam Park as they rest and graze in a patch of woodland outside homes on a housing estate in Harold Hill, near Romford (file photo).

Experts say the environment in areas such as Thetford Forest, Norfolk, and the New Forest in Hampshire are particularly at risk because of the rising deer population, and have called for a campaign to promote eating more venison. Here deer are pictured in Dagnam Park as they rest and graze in a patch of woodland outside homes on a housing estate in Harold Hill, near Romford (file photo).

Martin Edwards, head of deer management at the British Association of Shooting and Conservation (BASC), said: ‘There is less incentive to kill deer because the only revenue is from the sale of the carcass and at the moment there’s no value in it.’

No one would shoot a deer just to leave it to rot. But without culling, there is going to be an adverse impact on woodlands across the country.’

The Government has a strategy to plant 75,000 trees a year but it is feared landowners will resist if their young saplings are destroyed by deer. 

The Forestry Commission is so concerned it has formed a new Wild Venison Working Group seeking new ways to boost consumer demand for the healthy meat.

Some 600,000 deer need to be killed each year to control the UK's population, which now stands at two million. But the amount stalkers are paid for carcasses has fallen from about £2.50 to £1 per kilo and people see it as a 'niche meat for special occasions', according to Game Dealers Association chairman Stephen Crouch. Here, deer fight on sunny winter day in Richmond Park, London, United Kingdom (file photo).

Some 600,000 deer need to be killed each year to control the UK's population, which now stands at two million. But the amount stalkers are paid for carcasses has fallen from about £2.50 to £1 per kilo and people see it as a 'niche meat for special occasions', according to Game Dealers Association chairman Stephen Crouch. Here, deer fight on sunny winter day in Richmond Park, London, United Kingdom (file photo).

Some 600,000 deer need to be killed each year to control the UK’s population, which now stands at two million. But the amount stalkers are paid for carcasses has fallen from about £2.50 to £1 per kilo and people see it as a ‘niche meat for special occasions’, according to Game Dealers Association chairman Stephen Crouch. Here, deer fight on sunny winter day in Richmond Park, London, United Kingdom (file photo).

Stephen Crouch, chairman of the Game Dealers Association (GDA), said the current market was ‘dire’, especially as high-end establishments have dramatically reduced their orders. 

‘Restaurants at present are unwilling to gamble on buying venison and risk being stuck with it, so are choosing popular meats like beef and chicken that they know their customers will eat,’ he said.

‘We must do more to change people’s perception of wild venison and show it can be used in everyday meals. It is ideal for barbecues but we have not promoted it like that.

‘It’s seen by many as a niche meat for special occasions.’

Busy birds: Rare hen harrier has its best breeding season in 20 years with 60 new chicks born in Britain

A hen harrier chick successfully hatched in Angus Glens, Scotland, during lockdown.

A hen harrier chick successfully hatched in Angus Glens, Scotland, during lockdown.

A hen harrier chick successfully hatched in Angus Glens, Scotland, during lockdown.

One of Britain’s rarest birds of prey, the hen harrier, has this year had its best breeding season for two decades, according to new figures from Natural England.

A total of 60 chicks were fledged from 19 nests across Northumberland, the Yorkshire Dales, Cumbria and Lancashire in early summer.

The success was put down to high numbers of voles – a key food source – good weather and strong partnership between conservationist bodies and landowners.

One of our most distinctive birds, the hen harrier, left, has an owl-like face. Tony Juniper, chairman of Natural England, said: ‘Despite the great progress there is no cause for complacency. They remain critically endangered in England.’ 

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Environment Secretary George Eustice has been asked by the experts to encourage supermarkets to stock more British venison and consider helping to fund an advertising campaign.

A spokesman for the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said: ‘It is important to manage the deer to ensure a healthy and sustainable population in balance with the environment. We are working closely with the industry to identify where further support is needed.

‘British food and drink is some of the finest in the world and leaving the EU means we can take advantage of the growing global demand for great British produce, such as wild venison.’ 

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Whitehall’s army of 180 diversity watchdogs

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Whitehall mandarins have been criticised for wasting money on ‘non-jobs’ after it was revealed that at least 180 diversity officers are on the payroll across nine Government departments.

In a series of parliamentary questions, Tory backbencher Neil O’Brien asked Ministers how many members of their departmental staff had ‘one or more of the words “equality, diversity, inclusion, gender, LGBT or race” in their job title’.

Top of the pile was the Cabinet Office with 66 such employees, which included 41 members of the Government Equalities Office.

In a series of parliamentary questions, Tory backbencher Neil O¿Brien (pictured) asked Ministers how many members of their departmental staff had ¿one or more of the words ¿equality, diversity, inclusion, gender, LGBT or race¿ in their job title¿

In a series of parliamentary questions, Tory backbencher Neil O¿Brien (pictured) asked Ministers how many members of their departmental staff had ¿one or more of the words ¿equality, diversity, inclusion, gender, LGBT or race¿ in their job title¿

In a series of parliamentary questions, Tory backbencher Neil O’Brien (pictured) asked Ministers how many members of their departmental staff had ‘one or more of the words “equality, diversity, inclusion, gender, LGBT or race” in their job title’

However, further staff within the department are likely to have equality, diversity and inclusion responsibilities within their roles, without it being in their job title.

Previous job advertisements suggest that senior staff in these positions could expect a salary of about £70,000 – nearly three times what a student nurse earns.

Duncan Simpson of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘This is what happens when Whitehall chiefs rush to be right-on.

‘It would be far better for every taxpayer if mandarins focused on rooting out waste, rather than obsessing with identity politics and growing the number of non-jobs. Sensible Ministers would do well to cut the number of these culture wars commissars.’

The Ministry of Defence (pictured is their Whitehall building) is currently seeking a diversity and inclusion director who will be paid £110,000 a year ¿ more than is paid to an Army colonel who commands a battalion of 800 soldiers

The Ministry of Defence (pictured is their Whitehall building) is currently seeking a diversity and inclusion director who will be paid £110,000 a year ¿ more than is paid to an Army colonel who commands a battalion of 800 soldiers

The Ministry of Defence (pictured is their Whitehall building) is currently seeking a diversity and inclusion director who will be paid £110,000 a year – more than is paid to an Army colonel who commands a battalion of 800 soldiers

The Ministry of Defence had the second highest number of diversity staff, with 44. The Ministry is currently seeking a diversity and inclusion director who will be paid £110,000 a year – more than is paid to an Army colonel who commands a battalion of 800 soldiers.

Civil servants have been wrestling with diversity issues in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests this year.

In June, the then Permanent Secretary at the Department for Education declared he would work on ‘tackling the whiteness of senior Whitehall’, while his equivalent at the MoD wrote in an email that ‘Systemic racial inequality… has deep roots within UK society, including Defence’.

Staff at the Department for Environment have been told to educate themselves on concepts such as ‘white privilege’, ‘intersectionality’ and ‘microaggressions’, while a member of the Cabinet Office had to apologise for using the term ‘whitelisting’.

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Tragic Lotto winner Colin Weir’s spending spree of £40million is laid out in his will

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tragic lotto winner colin weirs spending spree of 40million is laid out in his will

He was the UK’s biggest lottery winner when he scooped the £161million jackpot with his now ex-wife in 2011.

But by the time Colin Weir died, aged 71, in December last year, the father-of-two had managed to get through half of his £80million share – in just eight years.

Rather than squandering the massive cash windfall, however, the estimated £40million was shared widely among family and friends, generous donations to sporting and charitable institutions, creating trust funds for the common good, and property investments. 

A lifelong supporter of Partick Thistle Football Club, Mr Weir also acquired a 55 per cent shareholding in the company a month before his death so he could donate it to the fans and put its future in the hands of the local community.

The UK's biggest lottery winner Colin Weir, who scooped the £161million jackpot with his now ex-wife Christine in 2011 (above), died aged 71 in December last year

The UK's biggest lottery winner Colin Weir, who scooped the £161million jackpot with his now ex-wife Christine in 2011 (above), died aged 71 in December last year

The UK’s biggest lottery winner Colin Weir, who scooped the £161million jackpot with his now ex-wife Christine in 2011 (above), died aged 71 in December last year

At the time of his death, the father-of-two had managed to get through half of his £80million share of his lottery winnings - in just eight years

At the time of his death, the father-of-two had managed to get through half of his £80million share of his lottery winnings - in just eight years

At the time of his death, the father-of-two had managed to get through half of his £80million share of his lottery winnings – in just eight years

For those in the world of politics, he was also the SNP supporter who contributed millions to his party and the Yes Scotland pro-independence campaign in 2014 which ended in failure.

But now the philanthropist’s newly-published will gives a fascinating insight into his remaining nearly £41million and how, despite being catapulted overnight into the ranks of Britain’s super rich, he appears not to have succumbed to the temptations of wealth. 

Sadly, his vast Euromillions win was not enough to buy him health or lasting happiness – he suffered years of ill health and he and his wife, Christine, divorced last summer after 38 years of marriage.

At the time of his death on December 27, he lived in a £1.1 million five-bedroomed seafront home in Ayr, which he bought in June 2018, following the end of his relationship. 

Meanwhile, he signed over to Mrs Weir, a former psychiatric nurse with whom he has two adult children, Carly, now 32, and Jamie, 30, sole ownership of a £3.5 million mansion, Frognal House, near Troon. The couple had reportedly bought the property, along with its furniture and fittings, after a 10-minute viewing four years earlier.

His will shows that when he passed away suddenly from sepsis and ‘acute kidney injury’ he owned furniture, jewellery and artworks valued at around £212,000, as well as four modestly-priced cars – a vintage Bentley Arnage, worth £10,000, a £28,250 three-year-old Jaguar F-Pace SUV, a £24,000 four-year-old Mercedes Benz E Class Estate and a 2019 Mercedes Benz V Class people carrier, valued at around £35,000.

In case of sudden emergencies, he also kept a petty cash box in the property, which contained a handy £263.90. A TV cameraman before his lucky win, he apparently still received a pension and when he died, the Department of Work and Pensions owed him arrears of £679.80.

Mrs Weir, a former psychiatric nurse with whom he has two adult children, Carly, now 32, and Jamie, 30, took sole ownership of £3.5million Frognal House, near Troon, after they divorced

Mrs Weir, a former psychiatric nurse with whom he has two adult children, Carly, now 32, and Jamie, 30, took sole ownership of £3.5million Frognal House, near Troon, after they divorced

Mrs Weir, a former psychiatric nurse with whom he has two adult children, Carly, now 32, and Jamie, 30, took sole ownership of £3.5million Frognal House, near Troon, after they divorced

Mr Weir's  will shows that when he passed away suddenly from sepsis and 'acute kidney injury' he owned furniture, jewellery and artworks valued at around £212,000

Mr Weir's  will shows that when he passed away suddenly from sepsis and 'acute kidney injury' he owned furniture, jewellery and artworks valued at around £212,000

Mr Weir’s  will shows that when he passed away suddenly from sepsis and ‘acute kidney injury’ he owned furniture, jewellery and artworks valued at around £212,000

Mr Weir's newly-published will gives an insight into his remaining nearly £41million and how he appears not to have succumbed to the temptations of wealth

Mr Weir's newly-published will gives an insight into his remaining nearly £41million and how he appears not to have succumbed to the temptations of wealth

Mr Weir’s newly-published will gives an insight into his remaining nearly £41million and how he appears not to have succumbed to the temptations of wealth

His council tax was also £37.08 in credit and, perhaps in hope of another lucky win, he even had the maximum £50,000 invested in National Savings and Investments Premium Bonds.

A long passion for horse racing led him to take part-ownership of three thoroughbreds controlled by syndicates, which included five-year-old geldings Knighted (£2,500) and Felony (£1,675), as well as winning Irish mare If You Say Run (£4,000).

His soft spot, however, was his beloved Partick Thistle FC. A £2.5 million investment shortly after his win was followed up later with more financial backing. Mr Weir, who owned shares worth £272,000 in the club, also helped set up the Thistle Weir Youth Academy and a section of Firhill Stadium was named the Colin Weir Stand.

In November, a month before he died, his company Three Black Cats Ltd, which is listed as having £5 million in the bank, acquired a 55 per cent shareholding in the club so he could donate it to the fans and put Partick Thistle’s future in the hands of the local community.

Mr Weir also made other smart investments, including assets in the tax haven of the Isle of Man of around £3.5 million and a varied share portfolio of more than £12.3 million, which featured stakes in global names such as Microsoft (£20,368), Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (£19,230), Estée Lauder (£19,813), Tesco (£19,562), AG Barr, creators of Irn-Bru (£10,040) and bakery chain Greggs (£22,950).

There was also a significant stake of around £400,000 in tax-advantage Enterprise Investment Schemes (EIS), where individuals can buy into small and medium companies for generous tax relief.

According to the will, Mr Weir’s estate is still due more than £80,000 from the Spanish authorities, following the sale of a holiday home on the island of Majorca. The property had been specially adapted to cater for his mobility problems.

Indeed, back in July 2011, at the time of their £161,653,000 win – built up after several rollovers – both Mr and Mrs Weir used walking sticks as aids as they revealed themselves as the nation’s luckiest couple. 

The former TV cameraman owned shares worth £272,000 in his beloved Partick Thistle FC, which helped to set up the Thistle Weir Youth Academy

The former TV cameraman owned shares worth £272,000 in his beloved Partick Thistle FC, which helped to set up the Thistle Weir Youth Academy

The former TV cameraman owned shares worth £272,000 in his beloved Partick Thistle FC, which helped to set up the Thistle Weir Youth Academy

Mr Weir was a TV cameraman before his lucky win, and he apparently still received a pension and when he died, the Department of Work and Pensions owed him arrears of £679.80

Mr Weir was a TV cameraman before his lucky win, and he apparently still received a pension and when he died, the Department of Work and Pensions owed him arrears of £679.80

Mr Weir was a TV cameraman before his lucky win, and he apparently still received a pension and when he died, the Department of Work and Pensions owed him arrears of £679.80

Mr Weir gave Partick Thistle FC a £2.5 million investment shortly after his win and more financial backing. A section of Firhill Stadium was named the Colin Weir Stand (above)

Mr Weir gave Partick Thistle FC a £2.5 million investment shortly after his win and more financial backing. A section of Firhill Stadium was named the Colin Weir Stand (above)

Mr Weir gave Partick Thistle FC a £2.5 million investment shortly after his win and more financial backing. A section of Firhill Stadium was named the Colin Weir Stand (above)

But while so many winners use their wealth to move on from their roots, the Weirs wanted to share their good fortune.

Mr Weir said that instead of distancing themselves from the rest of the world, the couple, who lived in a three-bedroom detached bungalow in the seaside town of Largs, North Ayrshire, would use their winnings to bring themselves closer to people.

He said: ‘We didn’t want to go away and live on a small island with no contact with the people who are important to us.’

In the first year after the cash bonanza, they spent £5million buying houses for close friends and setting up bursaries for talented youngsters – as well as giving donations to the local football team, nursing home and sports centre.

Instead of selling their old £220,000 house, they gave it to a young mother who lived next door with her parents.

They are thought to have bought five homes, at £230,000 each, for friends in a new development. Mrs Weir, the second of six children, also bought properties for all of her siblings.

Meanwhile, they splashed out £850,000 on a four-bedroom detached home set in 23 acres of gardens and woodland on the outskirts of Largs, which boasted a cinema, pool and stables. It was sold in 2016 to an overseas trust in a £1.4million deal.

They set up the Weir Charitable Trust to back projects promoting health, animal welfare, and public participation in sport, and stories of their kindness are legendary among those in need who crossed their path.

There was a £50,000 sponsorship for Lee Craigmile to complete a four-year course at the Florence Academy of Art, £102,000 for the National Sports Training Centre Inverclyde, and £750,000 for an all-weather artificial pitch at Largs Thistle – where football-mad Mr Weir became honorary president.

The generous lottery winners set up the Weir Charitable Trust to back projects promoting health, animal welfare, and public participation in sport

The generous lottery winners set up the Weir Charitable Trust to back projects promoting health, animal welfare, and public participation in sport

The generous lottery winners set up the Weir Charitable Trust to back projects promoting health, animal welfare, and public participation in sport

Mr Weir bought a £850,000 four-bedroom home, which boasted a cinema and stables, on the outskirts of Largs. The house was sold in 2016 to an overseas trust in a £1.4million deal

Mr Weir bought a £850,000 four-bedroom home, which boasted a cinema and stables, on the outskirts of Largs. The house was sold in 2016 to an overseas trust in a £1.4million deal

Mr Weir bought a £850,000 four-bedroom home, which boasted a cinema and stables, on the outskirts of Largs. The house was sold in 2016 to an overseas trust in a £1.4million deal

In August 2012, the couple paid a five-figure sum for a new prosthetic limb for 13-year-old Kieran Maxwell from Heighington, County Durham, who had lost part of his leg to a rare and aggressive form of cancer.

The teenager was a keen athlete but tragically died from Ewing’s Sarcoma in June 2017, aged just 18. The Weirs were also among a group of sponsors who helped raise £50,000 to send 15-year-old tennis star Ross Wilson from Largs to a tennis academy in Barcelona, Spain.

Moved by the threat to one of the UK’s last paddle steamers, the Waverley, which was built in 1946, they gave £100,000 to help save the ailing vessel and part-fund its refit.

Friends believe Mr Weir’s generosity will be his enduring legacy and, from now on, what’s left of his estate – valued at £40,812,683.22 – will be managed by a discretionary trust, set up to provide funds for his children, their partners and any descendants, as well as trusts and charities close to his heart. Despite his past generosity to the SNP, there is no mention of the party to which he was previously one of the biggest contributors.

Yesterday, a financial expert said: ‘Spending £40 million in eight years takes a bit of doing but it is likely to have mostly gone into setting up Trusts for his family and other interests. What he left behind seems to be a very sensible, safe portfolio.’

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