THAILAND TRIP WAS KIRSTY'S LAST FLING; Australian Suspect Asks for Police Protection

Article excerpt

GLOBETROTTER Kirsty Jones was on her final foreign adventure when she was raped and murdered in Thailand.

She promised her parents she would finally settle down when she got back home from her latest trip to south-east Asia and Australia.

But the 23-year-old was strangled and left semi-naked on the bed of her pounds 7-a-night room at a backpackers' hostel in the Thai city of Chiang Mai on Thursday.

Her killer is still at large - an Australian quizzed about the murder for 15 hours was told he was free to go but elected to stay at the police station overnight rather than return to the hostel.

Glyn and Sue Jones were enjoying a holiday in Benidorm when they heard of their daughter's death and immediately flew home to Britain.

Yesterday, Mr Jones, 48, said: "She was a lovely, fun-loving girl who dreamed of seeing the world. She had a great sense of adventure.

"We had told her of our worries about her backpacking alone and we were concerned about her. But she loved it - seeing the world and mixing with different sorts of people.

"She was determined to have one last look at the world before settling down with a career, but we got a promise from her that this would be her last trip."

Kirsty, a graduate of Liverpool University, was brought up on her family's 300-acre sheep and beef farm in the village of Tredomen, near Brecon in south Wales.

And as she grew up, she developed a real passion for travelling.

Her brother Gareth, 21, said: "Kirsty had lots of confidence and she loved travel. I'm just pretending she is still on holiday - it is my way of coping."

His mother, Sue, 47, also tried to talk about Kirsty, but it was all to much for her and she could only say, "She had everything in the world to look forward to", before breaking down in tears.

While the Jones family spoke of their heartbreak, Nathan Foley, 26, was being freed by police in Chiang Mai.

Foley, who holds joint Australian/UK nationality, had been staying at the same hostel as Kirsty - the Aree Guesthouse - and the pair had been on a few nights out together.

He is from New South Wales and had stopped off in Thailand on his way to Britain - it would have been his first trip to what he calls "the mother country".

When he heard detectives were looking for a westerner who had been friendly with Kirsty, he contacted a local police station.

After interrogating him for an initial three-hour period, police removed his passport and took him back to the hostel under the gaze of a small army of newsmen and television crews.

As detectives went through his belongings, he told them: "I can't believe you are doing this."

He then turned to the watching media and said: "This is a total nightmare. I don't know what these policemen are talking about. I just hope I wake up tomorrow and find everything is all right and this has just been a dream". …