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As the world reels from Shane Warne‘s shock death, more information about the cricket great’s tight-knit travelling group can be revealed with the men sharing a mutual love of sports, punting and partying abroad.
Warne’s entourage – Tom Hall, Gareth Edwards, Andrew Neophitou and Fred Witherow – have left to pick up the pieces on the Thai island of Koh Samui where the champion leg spinner was discovered unresponsive in his luxury villa late last Friday.
Neophitou, Warne’s sometime ‘manager’ and documentary producer, desperately tried to revive him using CPR, but Warne was declared dead upon arrival at Surat Thani hospital soon after.
The four men, who were all staying at the stunning hillside villa at the time of the tragedy, were later questioned and cleared by police with doctors later confirming Warne had died of ‘natural causes’ – most likely a massive heart attack.
Now it can be revealed that their ill-fated trip was just one of many visits to Koh Samui, and professional poker-player turned online gambling guru Gareth Edwards – had a financial stake in the resort where they were staying.
Gareth Edwards, Nicknamed ‘Gaz’, (seen with unidentified friend) built a fortune from online gambling
Warne and his mates had made several visits to Koh Samui where Edwards had a financial stake in a resort
A married dad-of-two who is based in Hong Kong, Tom Hall (pictured with Warne) was one of the first to break his silence on Warne’s shocking passing
A larger than life sports fanatic who first met Warne through poker circles in the Phillipines in 2010, Edwards is listed as the Chief Marketing Officer of Samujana Villas where the group were holidaying.
He is also a self-described ‘online betting executive’ who splits his time between Thailand, Hong Kong Australia as well as the United Kingdom and the US.
It’s understood Edwards also recently attended the Australian Open men’s final in Melbourne with Warne, and the pair also share a mutual friend in retired boxing great Jeff Fenech.
Edwards, a bachelor with a taste for fine food and wine and penchant for first-class travel, is a frequent visitor to Koh Samui and is believed to have had several suits on order at the same custom tailor that Warne visited just hours before his death.
Edwards had a stake in Samujana Villas (pictured) where Warne was found unresponsive
Professional poker player Gareth Edwards (pictured) tours the world and is based in Hong Kong
He is also believed to have spent several years working for another online gambling svengali Tom Hall – another of the men staying at Samujana Villas on the tragic ‘boy’s trip’.
A married dad-of-two who is based in Hong Kong, Hall was one of the first to break his silence on Warne’s shocking passing, posting a snap of a jar of Vegemite to his personal Instagram account and revealing Warne’s last meal – Vegemite on toast.
‘I met Shane some 15 years ago at a charity poker tournament and I don’t know exactly why, but we bonded and became firm friends and travelled all over the world together,’ Hall later said in a statement.
‘Our families met and would spend some great times together. The WhatsApp bi-directional piss-taking never stopped.’
Like Edwards, Hall has also built a career from online gambling with his social media accounts painting a picture of a world traveller with a taste for first class travel, Michelin-starred restaurants and frequent stopovers in the group’s beloved holiday villa in Koh Samui.
Hall is also a sports fanatic, with he and Warne conversing on Instagram earlier this year following the US Open women’s final.
‘Sport at its best. Two young players, playing with smiles, no grunts and groans just going for it,’ Hall wrote of Emma Raducanu’s win.
‘Couldn’t agree more Tom. Spot on mate,’ Warne replied.
It’s understood Hall began his career as a wealth management expert in Hong Kong during the nineties before making a lucrative switch to online gambling in 2002.
Tom Hall (with his longtime partner) was a frequent guest at Samujana and regular travel buddy of Warne
Hall (pictured on a luxury getaway) leads a glamorous lifestyle as an online betting executive
He is now listed as the CEO of betting and results website Sporting News and is a board advisor of NFT and cryptocurrency rights holders Leisurerights.com.
Cryptocurrency is also a passion of Fred Witherow who was also staying at Samujana Villas with Warne, Hall and Edwards and who hails from St Kilda, Warne’s long-time home.
Listing ‘gaming’ and ‘crypto’ as his Twitter interests, Witherow is also known amongst Warne’s friend circle as a mad cricket enthusiast and a Kings College Old Boy who built a career in financial equity.
Last year Witherow set up the lending company MyAssetPay which offers loans of up to $10million to high-end clients looking to borrow against personal assets.
It’s not known if he and Warne were involved in any business dealings however a person close to the late cricket legend said the two bonded over ‘golf and travel’.
Warne had an equally tight relationship with Neophitou, who reportedly produced the Amazon Prime doco Warne which was released just weeks before the 52-year-old’s sudden passing in Koh Samui.
Andrew Neophitou (pictured in Koh Samui on Saturday) was both close friend and business affairs manager of Warne
Neophitou (pictured at a press conference in Thailand on Monday) – or ‘Neo’ as he is known by friends’ – performed CPR on Warne at the villa
Hall (pictured far left) with Neophitou at Bophut Police Station in Koh Samui after Warne’s death
Another regular visitor to Thailand, Neophitou is a poker enthusiast who bonded with Warne through the world of high-stakes gambling.
He also produced the short-lived reality poker series The Poker Star back in 2009 and, more recently, was listed recently as a director in rights and publishing at Warne’s sports management firm SEL (Sports and Entertainment Limited) based in Melbourne.
(Andrew) is a senior executive at SEL and runs our Melbourne office,’ Warne’s manager James Erskine confirmed to The Daily Mail Australia.
‘He is a good friend of Shane’s and is part of the SEL team that looks after Shane.’
Edwards, Hall and Witherow are now in the process of flying back to Australia and are expected to attend the state funeral planned for the beloved cricketing great when his body is returned home on Thursday, accompanied by Neophitou.
Gareth Edwards (pictured on a luxury trip) shared a love of the high life with great mate Warne