The Thai man charged with shooting dead a British tourist at a New Year beach rave may escape jail after claiming it was an accident, reports the Sun.

Ekkapan Kaewkla, 26, who is due to appear in court on Thursday, would serve a suspended sentence for the death of Stephen Ashton, 22, if his claim that his gun went off "accidentally" is believed.

Mr Ashton, from Purley, south London, was celebrating New Year's Eve at one of Koh Phangan's infamous beach raves when he was caught in the middle of a gang feud.

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The Thai suspect, Ekkapan Kaewkla


He was shot in the stomach by a stray bullet from a homemade gun, reports the Daily Record.

Kaewkla claims he pulled the weapon when outnumbered by a group of Thai men from a rival gang but has admitted firing the bullet.

On Wednesday Ashton's family spoke of their "devastation" at their loss.

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Stephen Ashton is said to have been killed by a stray bullet as he danced with friends

In a statement issued by the Foreign Office on behalf of the family, they said: "As a family we are completely devastated by the loss of Stephen from our lives.

"He has been taken away from us in such cruel and tragic circumstances in which he was an innocent bystander simply enjoying New Year celebrations.