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Man held over Thai tourist death
Police in Thailand have arrested a man after a British tourist was shot dead at a New Year's Eve party where he was caught in the crossfire of a gunfight between rival gangs.
Stephen Ashton, 22, is said to have been killed by a stray bullet as he danced with friends 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. The man is expected to be charged with manslaughter, he said.
It was reported that Mr Ashton's family had travelled to Thailand and were on the way to Ko Phangan to formally identify his body and make arrangements for his repatriation.
Thai police said Mr Ashton was with a group of friends and 300 other tourists 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 on Tuesday.
The Bangkok Post said he was visiting the island with four or five friends and was staying at Pink Bungalow on Haad Rin.
Confirming the identity of the victim, 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."
Sky News reported that relatives of Mr Ashton will meet the British ambassador to Thailand, Mark Kent, on Thursday. "Most people have a very enjoyable holiday, a very trouble-free holiday," Mr Kent said. "But there are risks and we've set these out in our travel advice which you can access on the Foreign Office website."
Mr Ashton was a regular at the Rectory pub in Brighton Road, Purley, London.
Deputy manager Matthew Hitchmough said: "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."