Thailand court escape: American man facing death penalty makes violent getaway in Pattaya

5 November 2019, 15:42 | Updated: 5 November 2019, 16:39

An American man facing the death penalty was among three people who escaped from a Thai courthouse by stabbing a policeman and forcing a guard to hand over keys.

Bart Allen Helmus fled a Pattaya court in a pick-up truck, along with his Thai wife and another Thai man, the Bangkok Post reported.

It said a police captain was stabbed and a pistol fired in the air during the getaway.

Thailand's corrections department confirmed the escape, which it said happened while the trio were being moved from a holding area to a courtroom.

Helmus, 40, and his wife were charged with allegedly possessing a kilo of crystal methamphetamine to sell, and a firearm.

The other man was also charged with serious drugs and weapons charges.

The charges carry a maximum sentence of death.

The Bangkok Post said their getaway vehicle, a silver Isuzu, was found abandoned near the home of one of the suspects and that two people who may have helped them were arrested.

Police believe the fugitives are heading to the border after being picked up by another accomplice.

The officer who was stabbed is said to be in intensive care.

Pattaya is a popular with Western tourists but is also infamous for prostitution and crime.