A Thai man who raped and murdered a German backpacker has been sentenced to death.

Ronnakorn Romruen, 24, pounced on Miriam Beelte, as she visited a historic stone monument on the island of Koh Si Chang, eastern Thailand, on Sunday, April 7.

He brutally raped the 26-year-old before battering her head with a rock to kill her and stop her reporting the attack.

He then concealed her body below leaves on a secluded hillside.

Police arrested the local beach cleaner later that evening and he admitted to raping and killing Miriam, from Hildesheim, Germany.

Ronnakorn has been remanded in custody since the murder and admitted all charges but was yesterday sentenced to death because the "crime was so severe a reduced sentence was not possible".

A court judgment yesterday found that Ronnakorn was guilty of rape, murder to conceal a crime, concealing a body, taking the drug methamphetamine and drink driving.

He was sentenced to death and will have one month in which to appeal the verdict before being put on death row.

 

Miriam Beelte was raped and murdered.

 

The judgment released from Chonburi Provincial Court read: "Ronnakorn Romruen was guilty of raping (14 years in jail), murdering to conceal the crime (death penalty), drug taking and driving (eight months in jail), concealing the death of a person (one year in jail).

"However, the defendant confessed during the arrest, the investigation, and the legal consideration due to the amount of evidence against him.

"The court, therefore, will mitigate the penalty by half for the charge of raping (reduced to seven years jail), drug driving (reduced to four months), and concealing the person's death (reduced to six months).

"But the overall crime is so severe that of the defendant deserves to die and the punishment of the death penalty will stay in place for the charge of murdering to conceal a crime for which there is no mitigation."

Miriam's body was found by shocked locals dumped behind boulders and covered in leaves on the remote Thai island near the city of Pattaya.

CCTV showed how Ronnakorn had followed her up the hill of the ancient stone monument while pestering her to sleep with him.

When she rejected his advances, the drug-crazed killer pinned her to the ground and raped her.

He later told police that after she struggled free, he chased after her and battered her face with a rock until she was dead as he didn't want her to report the attack.

 

CCTV showed him follow her to a monument.

 

Officers said that Ronnakorn confessed to murder after four hours of interrogation and he was taken back to his shabby wooden home in the early hours of the morning to re-enact parts of the crime.

After killing the single holidaymaker, he calmly watched TV while smoking cigarettes and drinking beer.

Ronnakorn's mother, Nongluck Phosang, 43, had previously called on prosecutors to hand down the death penalty to her son.

She said: "My son and I didn't live together, so I didn't know much about what he usually did in the day. I only knew that he worked on a boat and collected rubbish from the beaches.

"He is a quiet guy who doesn't talk much. He likes to stay alone at home watching TV and listening to music, just like most of the guys."

"I deeply apologise to the girl's family on behalf of my son. I never thought that he could do anything like this.

"He deserves the full lawful punishment and I am willing to accept the judge's decision."