PHUKET: Australian ''Captain Mark'' Pendlebury was heading to his Phuket home this afternoon free on 500,000 baht bail over the stabbing death of a security guard outside a Patong nightclub early yesterday.
According to friends who met the 59-year-old boat tour operator briefly, he was ''very exhausted and will probably sleep for about 12 hours.''
''Both eyes are blackened,'' one friend said, ''and one is closed.''
Mr Pendlebury faces a charge of murdering security guard Sanya Khluewaengmon, 26, whose family and friends were in court today and who opposed bail. It is believed the family is likely to seek substantial compensation.
The Phuket Provincial Court, however, accepted that Mr Pendlebury is married to a Thai and has a well-established tour business and so is not a potential flight risk.
One of his friends said that in conversation today, Mr Pendlebury said that he was pushed to the ground and at least one tuk-tuk driver joined others in ''stomping'' him in Rat-U-Tit 200 Pi Road about 12.30am on Wednesday.
''He was in fear of his life and fully recalled what has happened to other expats who have been set upon around that part of Patong,'' the friend said.
Mr Pendlebury told a Phuketwan reporter yesterday that he was alive because of the intervention of two Indian tourists.
Investigators are keen to talk to those tourists and anyone else who may have witnessed what happened or recorded a video.
Earlier that night, the Australian had been at a Patong Rotary meeting with a guest, disabled Danish surfer, Frederik Aakerlund, 48.
Mr Aakerlund - better known as Fred - lost both legs in a military action in 2007 and has since dedicated his life to showing disabled children that they too can learn to surf.
He was set upon in his wheelchair by a gang of thugs in daylight two months ago in Patong's beach road and suffered a ''Clockwork Orange'' style random beating that kept him in the local hospital until last week.
''I am delighted to hear Mark is free,'' Fred said today. ''He was vitally concerned about my safety and walked me home on Tuesday night after the Rotary meeting.''
The friend who spoke to Mr Pendlebury before the court's decision to grant bail said that Mr Pendlebury told him that the injustice of the attack on the disabled surfer was still ''burning in his head'' when he saw the melee outside the Taipan nightclub and crossed the road to begin videoing what was happening.
''Mark said he thought the attack on Fred was shockingly unjust and he didn't want anyone else to be bashed and kicked in that way again.''
Within minutes, after being told to stop filming in the middle of the public road by a security guard, Mr Pendlebury was fighting for his own life.
Video footage supports his account of what happened.
VIDEO of Fatal Stabbing Outside Taipan in Patong