By Sebastien Berger in Bangkok and Nick Britten
A former public schoolboy was being held by police in Thailand last night over the murder of a primary school teacher on the island resort of Phuket.
After a 24-hour search, police found Paul Chetwynd-Talbot covered in blood after he had slashed his wrists in an apparent suicide attempt.
The manhunt began in the early hours of Tuesday after the battered body of Debra O'Hanlon, 31, was discovered in a guest house in Patong, which was devastated in last year's tsunami.
She had a broken neck and bruises all over her face and body. Police immediately issued an arrest warrant for Chetwynd-Talbot, also 31, who had been her boyfriend and was believed to be the last person to see her alive.
He was taken into custody shortly before midnight local time yesterday and immediately taken to hospital.
Police refused to say under what circumstances, or where, he was found.
The couple used to run the Red or Dead bar in Patong. However, the business collapsed after the tsunami and Miss O'Hanlon returned to work in Britain.
She flew back to Thailand on Saturday, her birthday, in an attempt to bring Chetwynd-Talbot back to England.
But he refused. In the hours before the murder, the couple were heard arguing noisily in the guest house where Miss O'Hanlon was staying.
They failed to turn up for a barbecue with friends on Sunday, who alerted the police when they still could not contact them the following day. Miss O'Hanlon's body was found at 2am on Tuesday.
Suwit Othong, a police colonel, said: "There was blood all over the room and hand prints made in blood on the walls, a towel, and a wash basin. Her money and credit cards have gone."
Two return tickets to England for August 2 were found in her luggage.
The officer heading the investigation, Captain Padungpong Dukesukkhaen, added: "She tried to convince him to go back and stay together in England. The body was found beaten to death. We didn't find wounds from any weapons. An autopsy showed she had a broken neck, jaw, and occipital bone."
Officers believe that Miss O'Hanlon put up a fierce struggle for her life, and could have been killed up to 24 hours before being found at the Ericsson guest house.
The couple's business had been in the heart of Patong's red light district.
It went under when the tourist trade collapsed following the tsunami.
They flew back to England and Miss O'Hanlon got a job as a primary school teacher at Kings Cliffe Endowed School in Peterborough, Cambs.
She was due to start work soon as the deputy head of Wollaston School in Wellingborough, Northants. However, Chetwynd-Talbot returned to Thailand within a month.
According to friends he took a job as a short-order cook in a diner called Fat Boy, met a Thai girlfriend and fell into debt.
One expatriate, who did not want to be named, said: "Debs had been out here this year and she gave him some time to sort himself out.
"She was completely besotted with him. She arrived on her 31st birthday. They were all over each other."
Immigration authorities say there is no trace of him leaving the country and police said they found his passport in Miss O'Hanlon's room.
Miss O'Hanlon's father, Malcolm, from Wellingborough, Northants, said yesterday that he doubted Chetwynd-Talbot would ever return to Britain.
Her neighbours in Kettering said she was "always happy and jolly".
One said: "She was in Thailand when the tsunami hit but I didn't know she had gone back.
"She was such a nice girl, very bubbly, and a really nice neighbour. She said she had got this new job and was quite excited."
Rachel Dempster, the head teacher at Kings Cliffe Endowed School and the former deputy head teacher at Woodnewton Junior School, said: "Debra was a talented, powerful and gifted teacher.
"She had everything to live for. She had worked for me since Easter at Kings Cliffe, and was a very committed, dedicated teacher who will be very sadly missed."
A spokesman from Northamptonshire county council said: "We are all deeply shocked and saddened to hear of Debra's death.
"Debra was highly regarded for the work she did as a teacher in Northamptonshire.
"We were looking forward to Debra taking up her new post in September. At this terrible time all our thoughts are with her family and friends."
A spokesman for the British embassy in Bangkok would not comment on the circumstances surrounding her death. He said: "We are in contact with the Thai authorities but we cannot confirm details of the ongoing police investigation."