Friends pay tribute to Purley man Stephen Ashton shot dead in Thailand
Tributes have flooded the Facebook page of a Purley man shot dead while celebrating New Year in Thailand.
Stephen Ashton was dancing on the sand when he was caught in the crossfire of a gun fight between two local gangs.
The 22-year-old city trader, who is understood to have been on holiday with friends, was at a party at Zoom bar on Haad Rin beach on Koh Phangan island.
Friends have expressed their shock at Mr Ashton's death.
Harley Locke wrote: "Why do these shocking things have to happen to someone like you is just devastating.
"My heart goes out to everyone who was close to him an its a pleasure to of known you Stephen."
Joseph Brazil wrote: "In shock, such an amazing young man with so much talent, gone but not forgotten."
Charlie Cooksey wrote: "Looking back at it I have had some blinders with this boy absolute legend, always on form, always laughing- so sad. What a way to go when you are having the time of your life."
Paying tribute to an "amazing person" Daniella Murrell 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 and you will never ever be forgotten."
Mr Ashton who was shot in the torso, was taken to hospital where he was pronounced dead.
His mother Diane was on her own New Year holiday abroad and is understood to be on her way to Thailand to formally identify her son's body.
Richard Ottaway, Conservative MP for Croydon South, also sent out his condolences to Mr Ashton’s family.
He said: “My deepest sympathies go out to Stephen Ashton’s family. It is hard to fathom the heartache and shock they must be suffering at a time of year that should be filled with joy and optimism.
“A talented, well-liked young man who was out celebrating the New Year with friends in a beautiful location has had his life cut short in the most unspeakable and tragic circumstances.
“I have written to Mr Ashton’s family to offer my help in any way that I can. I am determined to ensure that justice is served and that whoever is responsible for this heinous act is held to account.”
A 26-year-old man Thai man, Ekkapan Kaewkla, was arrested by police yesterday.
He is said to have been in possession of a home-made gun, which was allegedly the weapon used.
It is understood Kaewkla has admitted being involved in the fight, but denied firing the shot. He is expected to be charged with manslaughter.