British teen found dead in Thai forest 'was murdered in drug deal gone wrong'

A British teenager found dead in a forest in Thailand was bludgeoned by a sex offender during an alleged drug deal, police have said.

The body of Woramet Ben Taota, 16, was found in a grove in his hometown of Lampang, in the north of the country, on May 7 with serious head wounds and cuts to his face.

Officers investigating his death have said a man with connections to the local drug trade has admitted killing the dual national, known to friends as Ben, The Telegraph reports.

Chaiwat Boonkarin, 44, was charged with murder after confessing that he met up with the teen for a drug deal which turned into an argument, according to The Sun.

After accusing the boy of stealing and lying he said he battered him to death with a piece of wood.

Police said Chaiwat was only released from prison eight months ago after being convicted of sex crimes.

Ben’s British grandmother Lilian Graham said she believes he was lured to the forest.

Speaking to MailOnline, she said: ‘Ben was with a girl, and they went to the forest to meet a man. But something must have happened. And the man killed Ben.

‘They don’t know what has happened to the girl.’ 

Mrs Graham added: ‘It’s been a real shock. We are all devastated. Ben’s father Steve is going to Thailand.

‘I wanted to go out there with him to support him. But he wouldn’t let me. He said the flight was too long and it would be too upsetting.’

The teenager’s last moments were caught on CCTV, showing him riding his mum’s blue scooter with a girl named Suraphltchaya Khamsa, 16, who police say he was ‘romantically involved with.’ 

The two dropped off another girl, also seen on the bike, then rode away together at 7.18pm local time in darkness. Ben’s first girlfriend, Yam, has been found safe and police have ruled her out of the case. 

But Suraphltchaya, known as Ping Pong, has not and there are fears for her safety following the arrest of suspect Chaiwat, who had known the pair ‘for several years’. 

Police previously said Ben’s smartphone and cash were missing, suggesting he may have been robbed.

They said they believe the teen was killed elsewhere and dumped in the woods, as there were no signs of struggle where his remains were found.

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