Friends, family toast Powys murder victim Kirsty Jones

By Carl Yapp
BBC Wales News

Image caption,
Sue Jones said she missed her daughter every day

Last Saturday some 20 of Kirsty Jones's friends and family laid flowers at her grave and then drank a toast in memory of her at one of her favourite pubs.

They were marking the 10th anniversary of her death while on a two-year trip around world.

They chose the Griffin Inn at Felinfach, near Brecon, for the toast because "it was one of her favourite places", said her mother, Sue.

"She was an organiser. That's why Saturday was so good because it was as though she was still organising," Mrs Jones added.

"As a result of Saturday, her friends are now considering organising a school reunion."

Kirsty, a farmer's daughter, was from the hamlet of Tredomen. It's a small, quiet community, mainly made up of farms, in the hills above the Powys market town of Brecon.

I met Mrs Jones and asked her about the investigation and what life had been like for the last 10 years without her daughter.

Kirsty, 23, a Liverpool University graduate, was a bright, intelligent, caring young woman, but just a few weeks into her worldwide adventure, on 10 August, 2000, she was murdered.

Her body was found in a guesthouse in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai, 435 miles (700 km) north of the country's capital Bangkok.

In the decade since her death there has been grief and sorrow, but the lengthy slow-paced investigation has also made it a frustrating time for the Jones family.

Dyfed-Powys Police, who joined the case in 2001 because of the family's concerns, say there are lines of inquiry which still "needed to be resolved, and a number of people still of interest to detectives". They say they are confident someone will be caught.

But how is her mother coping, and does she believe the Royal Thai Police will find the person who killed her daughter?

She said: "I am optimistic. I'm always optimistic. It's a waiting game. It's been a long time, but we have the DNA [of the murderer] and that's where the answer lies.

Image caption,
Kirsty Jones was 23 when she was murdered

"I've never actually thought they wouldn't catch anyone, but I do get weary sometimes because it's such a long and slow process, but you can't give up. I'll never give up."

She added: "As time goes by it gets easier. I don't say it goes away, but you get to live with it. The family will never be the same, though.

"It seems like Kirsty's death was a cut-off point. There are things that happened when Kirsty was alive and things that happened after she died, and we'll say 'Oh, that happened when Kirsty was with us'."

Inside the family farmhouse there are several pictures of Kirsty on the walls, and Mrs Jones explained what sort of person her daughter was.

"I miss her every day," she said. "I miss her noise, her laugh, I miss her presence - she was a 'what you see is what you get' sort of person."

With a warm smile, Mrs Jones added: "She was a caring person. She was an organiser. She was very bright and very intelligent."

The interview inexorably returns to the investigation, and Mrs Jones says she has her suspicions about the case and who was involved in her daughter's murder, but she is reluctant to provide more details.

"I'm sure there are people out there who know what happened and they could be doing something to help. I have my suspicions, but we need evidence," she said.

Image caption,
Kirsty's body was found in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai

Mrs Jones also made a point of praising the work of Dyfed-Powys Police. They helped secure the killer's DNA, which means all the investigators need is a name.

It's clear Mrs Jones has a good relationship with Ch Supt Steve Hughson, one of the two officers involved in the case since 2001, who joined us for the interview.

They engaged in a little light-hearted banter, and the balding officer joked how Mrs Jones pulled his leg about his "wide parting".

Later, Mrs Jones said: "I can't praise Dyfed-Powys Police enough. We've been so, so lucky. We have a great relationship with people like Steve and they've been so good."

Mrs Jones ended by saying that she wanted something good to come out of something so tragic.

"If someone is injured or killed overseas, I think the British police should be able to work in partnership with the native force.

"I'd like to see some sort of agreement so this could become a reality."

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