BLOODBATH IN SIN CITY; CABBIE FACES DEATH PENALTY Irishman charged with the murder of Thai vice girl.
THE bloodied body of a young Thai prostitute lies with her hands bound behind her back as investigators arrive at the gruesome scene.
Irish taxi driver Denis Leahy was arrested and charged with the 24-year-old's murder as he apparently fled for the Cambodian border.
Shaven-headed Dubliner Leahy, 40, is accused of killing the woman, believed to have been stabbed up to 20 times, in his apartment in the sex tourist city of Pattaya.
He was arrested after falling asleep in a cab when the driver became suspicious of his injuries and called police from his mobile.
Officers pounced when the cabbie pulled into a petrol station to fill up and Leahy was later charged with murder.
The victim, a bar worker named Bupha Tanchiangpin, was stabbed 15 times in the back and another five times in her neck and face.
When her naked body was found by police her throat had also been slashed.
After the arrest Leahy was taken back to Pattaya and, if found guilty of murder, could face a death sentence by lethal injection.
Bupha, from the poor province of Udon Than in the north-east, was found in the Irishman's apartment in Pattaya - which is 80 miles east of Bangkok.
Bupha's body was discovered on Sunday evening by a security guard.
Police believed she may have been killed in an argument over money.
A security guard at the scene claimed residents in the apartment block complained about noise from an argument.
The guard said when he and his colleagues went to the apartment a man escaped and sped off on a motorbike.
He added: "I saw Mr Denis take the girl to his apartment.
"A short while later I rushed to their apartment after hearing her screams for help.
"But then it went quiet. Then I went round the back and saw Mr Denis jump out of a second-floor window, and jump on to a Yahama motorcycle and drive off." Cops found the suspected murder weapon, a bloodstained Army-style machete, in the room where Bupha's body was.
Leahy is believed to have lived in the apartment with his 28-yearold Thai wife Khun Janyar.
She arrived home from her job as a fishmonger at a local market just after the police and was stunned to find the bloody scene.
Detectives said she had no idea where Leahy was and did not know the dead woman.
Police Major Chalerm Kriatsirimaak, who is leading the investigation, said: "Mr Denis had been living here with a Thai common-law wife Janyar.
"He was a taxi driver in Ireland. She sold fish at the market.
"The room was quite smashed. We do not know what it was over."
Immigration police at airports and border points around Thailand were on red alert and prepared for Leahy.
A police press conference is expected to take place later today.
Yesterday a Department of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman said: "We have no information on the man in question at the moment, but his family have been in contact with our office in Dublin."
The Department expect to have more information today from colleagues in the Irish Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Pattaya is one of the biggest centres for tourism, with around five million visitors - many of them Irish - every year.
Despite the open sex trade Pattaya, which has a high murder rate, is seeing an increasing number of foreign families paying a visit.
The city has been dubbed Thailand's Costa del Crime, and is a hideaway for on the run criminals.
Paedophiles, organised criminal gangs and high-profile sex beasts are among those who flee there to escape justice at home.
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SCENE: Apartment block' SUSPECT: Dublin man Denis Leahy, 40, after being arrested in Pattaya' BUTCHERED: Girl's body lies face down in suspect's flat in Thailand