'I will forever be indebted to them' - sister of Norfolk student murdered in Thailand pays heartfelt tribute to police family liaison officers
PUBLISHED: 09:36 14 January 2018 | UPDATED: 09:36 14 January 2018
It is more than three years since 23-year-old Norfolk student Hannah Witheridge was brutally murdered while backpacking in Thailand.
The lives of Miss Witheridge’s devastated family will never be the same again, but their long and difficult journeys back from the depths of despair have been helped by police family liaison officers.
Today Miss Witheridge’s sister Laura gives an open and incredibly moving account of the vital role FLOs have played in trying to ease their pain.
She said: “I’m not sure how three whole years have passed since my beautiful sister Hannah was so senselessly taken from us; it feels more like three minutes.
“I remain envious of people who have never heard of family liaison officers. I too enjoyed that blissful ignorance until the September 15 2014 when our lives changed forever. I was naïve to the significance of the family liaison role and had no idea that two of these very influential police officers were about to support my family through the most horrific time of our lives.
“Grief is capricious and affects people differently. Managing and supporting others as they endure the brutal ride that tragedy offers must be a treacherous endeavour. For my family, they achieved it so remarkably well. They quickly figured out the way we all needed supporting. The aftermath of tragedy is such an unpredictable path and everyone responds differently. Their ability to tailor their approach to each and every one of us was truly remarkable. For us, the case had the added complexity of having taken place overseas. First and foremost, we wanted to bring Hannah home. Our family liaison officers supported us in achieving this.
“The support continued as they kept us updated on how the case was unfolding overseas, and even travelled to Thailand with us to attend the trial of the two men accused of Hannah’s murder. They went above and beyond and supported us as best they could through an impossible ordeal. Even now, three years on, they continue to keep us up to date with any new information that they receive from over seas in relation to those condemned for Hannah’s death. It is difficult to adequately articulate with words just how extraordinary their support has been. I will forever be indebted to them for the care, compassion and commitment they have dedicated to my family.”