The conviction of two migrants sentenced to death for the murder of an Essex University student and another tourist in Thailand has been upheld.

Burmese pair Wai Phyo and Zaw Lin had denied killing and raping Hannah Witheridge and killing fellow backpacker David Miller on the resort island of Koh Tao.

Their battered bodies were found on a beach on the morning of September 15, 2014.

Lawyers for the two men had claimed evidence used in the case against them was mishandled and they made confessions under duress that they later retracted, raising questions about police competence and the judicial system in Thailand.

The trial also saw a well-known Thai forensics expert testify that the DNA evidence which formed a major element of the prosecution's case did not link the defendants to the scene.

The expert also alleged that police had failed to properly control the crime scene and mishandled the DNA evidence.

But a court rejected the defence arguments and in December 2015 convicted both defendants of murder and sentenced them to death.

Halstead Gazette:

Upheld - Myanmar nationals Wai Phyo (left) and Zaw Lin (right) are escorted by police officers at Supreme Court in Bangkok, Thailand. The court has upheld the 2015 conviction of the two Myanmar migrants sentenced to death for the murder of two British backpackers on a resort island in 2014. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit).

Human Rights Watch at the time called the verdict "profoundly disturbing", citing the defendants' accusations of police torture that were never investigated and questionable DNA evidence linking them to the crime.

But Thailand's Supreme Court has now upheld their convictions.

Miss Witheridge, 23, who was originally from Great Yarmouth in Norfolk, and Mr Miller, 24, from Jersey, had arrived in Thailand separately and met at the hotel where they were both staying.

She lived in Colchester and studied speech and language at the Wivenhoe campus during her time at the university.

Their killers, who were both 22 at the time, were employed as service workers on the island, which is famous for is diving locations.