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Former weekly reporter found dead in Thailand aged 38

Mark FennA former weekly newspaper reporter who moved to South East Asia to work has been found dead in Thailand aged 38.

Tributes have been paid to Mark Fenn, formerly of the Brentwood Gazette, described as an “accomplished young journalist” and “total ‘one-off'” by former colleagues.

Mark, pictured left, spent six years with the Gazette before embarking on a career with the English language media in South-East Asia, where he had been based for the past decade.

He was found dead at the home he shared with Kamonwan, his wife of nearly four years, in the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.

Mark was last seen in public drinking with friends on Saturday 16 January, and died in the early hours of the following morning.

His funeral was held in the city two days later.

A feature he wrote for the BBC website shortly before his death about British Second World war soldiers in Burma was published posthumously on Sunday with his family’s permission.

As well as freelance work, Mark also edited City News, a publication in Chiang Mai.

Former Brentwood Gazette editor Roger Watkins said: “All Mark’s colleagues will be saddened by his untimely death. We remember him both as an accomplished young journalist and as a trusted companion and friend.

“He was a keen and tenacious reporter who was always committed to reflecting life in Brentwood in all its many facets.”

Originally from Romford, Mark worked for the Gazette between 1999 and 2005 before moving to Thailand to work as a sub-editor on the Bangkok Post.

He then worked at the Bangkok bureau of the South China Morning Post between October 2008 and December 2009 and as a sub-editor at The Straits Times in Singapore between May 2010 and May 2013.

His friend Ben Hall, another former Gazette colleague, said: “Intelligent, mischievous, chaotic and independently minded – Mark sometimes seemed frustrated by the stupidity of the rest of humanity.

“He was incredibly kind to his friends and entertainingly vitriolic about others, especially after a few drinks.

“He had a darkly rude sense of humour, a liking for silliness and I can picture now his chuckling laugh. But alongside this he was deeply concerned by those pushed to the margins.

“We’ve lost someone who wanted to give people a voice and a chance to have their say.”

Sheelagh Bree, Mark’s news editor throughout his time with the Gazette, said: “As soon as Mark joined the Gazette as a junior reporter I knew I had a total ‘one-off’ individual on my hands who always looked for the other side of the story. He was much-liked and loved for his fantastic sense of humour and fun take on life.

“He was highly intelligent, kind, a great colleague and a total professional at all times.

“He cut his journalistic teeth at the Gazette and always told me the skills he learned there formed the template of his successful reporting life.

“He was a great and dear friend to many and he will be much missed.”

Former colleague Kathy Canham told the newspaper she was “privileged” to have worked with Mark.

She continued: “He was inspirational and had immense integrity that shone through his journalism.

“Mark was extremely empathetic when dealing with people in his stories but he was not afraid to ask tough questions to uncover the truth.

“Mark went on to achieve great success in his career and his untimely passing is a great loss to journalism.”