Stephen Ashton Death: Devastated Friends Pay Tribute To Brit Killed In Thailand On Facebook

Devastated friends and family of Stephen Ashton, shot dead as he celebrated New Year at a full moon party on Koh Phangan, have paid tribute to the"amazing, funny" 22-year-old.

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.

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

“We are comforted in the thought that he was having a fantastic time with friends after such a difficult period following the loss of his much loved dad who passed away from a brain tumour in 2011 and the loss of his granddad a few months earlier.

“We were all so proud of him; he was a much loved son, brother, grandson and nephew.

"He will be truly missed by his family but also by the many friends he made during his life.

"We cannot comprehend how someone can carry out such a reckless act, giving such little value to human life.

“We ask that our privacy be respected to allow us to grieve.”

Mr Ashton had posted pictures on his Facebook page showing him enjoying his holiday in Thailand.

He is said to have been killed after getting caught in the crossfire of a gunfight between rival gangs, as he danced with friends at a beach bar on the paradise island.

One friend wrote: "I still can't believe the awful news I was told yesterday, heaven has gained another angel but we are all left at a loss.

"You are an amazing person & you will never ever be forgotten, it was such a pleasure to know you!! My thoughts are with your family at this devastating time.. R.I.P Stephen sleep tight xx"

Another said: "Still in absolute shock about what's happened & don't even want to believe it!! You were taken far too soon! It was only a while ago that we were working together..

"You always put a smile on everyone's face at work with all your famous sayings! What can I say! So many funny memories we shared with you!!

"Ashton your always be missed & loved by everyone.. My thoughts are with your family! RIP babe. Gone but never ever forgotten!! Love you xxx"

Others posted memories of times they spent with Mr Ashton, of Purley, Surrey. One wrote: "We made a great centre back partnership together in the good old days. My condolences to your family."

Another said: "Looking back at it, I've had some blinders with this boy, absolute legend, always on form, always laughing, so sad. What a way to go when you're having the time of your life."

Police have arrested a 26-year-old Thai man identified as Ekkapan Kaewkla, or Lae Kaewkla, and first pictures of the suspect have emerged in Thai media.

Ekkapan, believed to have fled into the mountains, was found with a home-made gun believed to have been used in the shooting.