Brit backpacker, 21, who died in Cambodia ‘spiked’ by date rape drug GHB

The family of a backpacker who died in Cambodia face another bleak Christmas – tormented by revelations that she was plied with drugs.

Linda Bambridge had hoped this festive season would revolve around daughter Amelia, 21, and tales of her adventurous gap year abroad.

But instead of laughter and joy, there will be sadness and an empty seat – a stark reminder that Amelia is gone.

Her body was found floating in the Gulf of Thailand in October 2019. Amelia was last seen at a beach party and a post mortem ruled that she drowned.

Toxicology tests requested by the family and carried out in the UK revealed the date rape drug GHB in her system – raising fears her drink was spiked.

MDMA, better known as ecstasy, and the hallucinogenic drug MDA were also found. But Linda, 53, is certain Amelia would not have taken all three drugs willingly and the family has asked for the investigation to be reopened.

After 14 months of agony, Linda said of her ongoing ordeal.

She said: “We are going to miss her so, so much this year. Amelia loved Christmas and this should have been her first one back home after travelling.

“All I have is photographs of past years and it almost hurts too much to look at them. Everything is just a memory now.”

Linda said the pain will hit Amelia’s siblings especially hard this Christmas.

She has five other children – Rhianna, 13, Jasper, 15, Georgie, 20, Harry, 28, and 35-year-old Sharon.

The heartbroken mum added: “We all miss her all the time. This Christmas will hit Georgie especially because she and Amelia were so close, like twins.

“It’s all still so very, very raw. Some days I’m in denial and other days it hits me and I feel that surge in my stomach.

“I don’t know how we are going to get through but somehow we have to.”

Amelia’s death had all the hallmarks of a tragic, but seemingly cut-and-dried case. She went missing after the party on the Cambodian island of Koh Rong.

When her floral backpack was found abandoned by rocks, her family feared she had been abducted – or worse.

Her body was found a week later, some 60 miles away. A post mortem determined the cause of death as drowning and Cambodia police closed the file.

Amelia was cremated and her ashes returned to the UK. But using tissue samples taken during the post mortem, scientists in London carried out tests.

The drugs were identified, raising a series of questions. The results were sent to Cambodian police in March but the family have heard nothing back.

Tearful Linda, of Worthing, Essex, said: “I am convinced there was some sort of cover-up. Amelia wasn’t a drug user, she didn’t take party drugs in the UK.

“She was so sensible she never drank to the point she didn’t know what she was doing.

“I think her drink was spiked. I think it made her feel unwell and she went down to the rocks to sit for a while and was either swept away or fainted.

“We don’t know what happens on these islands. There’s no police station on Koh Rong, no emergency services, nothing but hostels promoting beach parties.”

While ecstasy was also detected, Linda said her daughter never took recreational party drugs.

She insisted: “I wasn’t there, so she could have been tempted. But it just doesn’t sound like Amelia at all. She was so organised and so sensible.

“People might read this and think ‘maybe she didn’t know her daughter took drugs’ but it’s not like that.

“I’ve got other children who have been through teenage years and I am not naive. I don’t think Amelia would have taken anything willingly.”

Linda claimed Cambodian police failed to investigate properly amid fears it would damage tourism, saying: “They don’t want to put off visitors.”

Business banking student Amelia was on an apprenticeship scheme at Lloyds and had spent two years saving and planning her gap year.

Family describe her as a cat-loving feminist and “vegan warrior” who inspired them to live more ethical lives.

She left the UK on September 27 last year and first flew to Vietnam to meet her father Phil, who was born there.

They both travelled to Cambodia before she went on alone to Koh Rong and checked into the Nest Beach Club hostel.

Hours later she was last pictured enjoying a party around a camp fire. She went missing that night.

Linda said it was that grainy photo that raised her suspicions. “There was something not quite right about the way she looked. Her eyes seemed very unfocused,” she said.

Amelia was reported missing 72 hours later.

Her dad joined the search and brother Harry, a former paratrooper, flew in from his home in California. Linda arrived four days later.

And it was she, not police, who found the last CCTV footage of Amelia at a local beach bar.

It showed her daughter and pals walking towards the party on Police Beach at about 9pm. There was no footage of her returning.

Linda said: “There were about 100 people involved but no real organisation.

“The circumstances of Amelia’s death has raised more questions than answers and I need to know exactly what happened to my baby.”

Six men who work in local restaurants and hotels were quizzed in relation to Amelia’s disappearance, but no one was charged with a crime.

Heartbreakingly, the family had to cremate Amelia in Cambodia because her body was too decomposed to fly home. To add to their pain, pictures of her body appeared on Instagram.

They have been unable to scatter Amelia’s ashes together because of Covid restrictions on the number of people meeting.

Sussex Police helped the family organise toxicology reports.

A spokesman said: “Her family requested that samples obtained during the post mortem were provided to them.

“With the assistance of Sussex Police, who funded the toxicology tests in support of the family, the samples were examined and revealed the presence of MDMA, MDA and GHB.”

He said officers contacted the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, advising the file be sent to Interpol to pass to the Cambodian authorities.

Tonight Interpol said they were unable to comment on cases which remain “under the jurisdiction of national police authorities”.

In Cambodia, officials said they have not received the paperwork. The National Police declined to comment.

There have been question marks over previous probes into Brits dying in the Far East.

In 2008 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling’s bruised and half-naked body was found on a beach in Goa and police claimed she drowned.

It later emerged she had 50 injuries and a long fight for justice saw a local man convicted of culpable homicide.

And when Hannah Witheridge, 23, and David Miller, 24, were found bludgeoned on the island of Koh Tao, Thailand, in September 2014, their families faced a struggle for justice before two migrant workers were finally found guilty of their deaths.