A BRITISH expat has killed himself in his jail cell while awaiting to stand trial for a brutal murder on the Costa del Sol. 

Leigh Anthony Gardiner, 51, reportedly strangled himself with his shoelaces while being held at Alhaurin de la Torre prison. 

The chef was first arrested in June 2019 for allegedly slashing Irishman John Pender to death with broken bottles at a pub in Fuengirola. 

Authorities immediately put him on suicide watch over fears he wanted to take his own life before facing justice. 

However this was reportedly reversed after Gardiner was placed under an intensive monitoring programme. 

TRAGIC: John Pender was killed in a brutal attack using broken bottles in a pub in Fuengirola

The prison is now launching an investigation into how the Brit was able to kill himself, as are the police. 

An inside source told the Daily Mail: “’He was found lifeless on his bed after failing to respond to morning roll-call.

“He had been dead for several hours and nothing could be done to save him.”

Another added: “The death is still being investigated but everything is pointing towards suicide.

“He had shoelaces knotted round his neck and he had left a note saying he was sorry to his family.”

Sources say that there is nothing to suggest foul play in the death. The body was discovered on Wednesday morning. 

Prison workers’ association TAMPM said in a statement: “We regret to have to confirm the death of an inmate in Module Five of Alhaurin de la Torre Prison.

“The 51-year-old foreigner L.A.G was discovered dead in his cell during morning roll call on December 30.

“Prison workers found him lying lifeless on his bed when they opened the cell.

“He appeared to have died several hours earlier and nothing could be done to save him.

“Evidence found at the scene, such as shoelaces tied around his neck, appeared to indicate it wasn’t a natural death but investigations by the relevant professionals are underway.”

SCENE: The murder took place at the popular Pogs Irish bar in Fuengirola in June 2019

Pender, 53, from Shankill, Dublin, died after being attacked in the men’s toilets at the Pogs Old Irish Rock Pub in Fuengirola.

The charity worker and father-of-two, who friends described as a ‘gentle giant’, had apparently told his killer to stop bothering his wife, Caroline.

The couple had been on holiday with their two children Conor and Amy, who were not at the pub.

A statement from the family at the time said: “He will be sadly missed by his loving and heartbroken wife, children, dad, brother Stephen and sister Christine.”

The attack followed Gardiner apparently ‘pestering’ several women in the pub, including Pender’s wife and another woman they were with.

The Irishman tried to follow his attacker after receiving the fatal wounds, but died near the door of the pub in a pool of his own blood.

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