Three of the four men accused of killing two Newcastle University students were high on crystal meth, police have said.
Neil Dalton and Aidan Brunger, both 22, were on a three-month placement in a hospital in Borneo when they were attacked.
Police said three of the four men accused of killing Neil and Aidan after a row were high on mind-bending crystal meth, available for 40p a hit on the island and known as syabu.
They have allegedly admitted the murders and could face the death penalty.
One local said: “People take syabu and go crazy. They can’t sleep for days and they get violent. But the youngsters buy it to get a quick hit for cheap.”
A L Baik Bistro owner Avinash Ran told how he saw the aftermath of the horrific attacks that left Neil and Aidan dying 20 yards apart in the street.
And the 40-year-old said one of the knife gang fixed him with what seemed like a drug-crazed stare.
He added: “I was sitting behind the counter when I saw these two British students walking past.
“A few minutes later one of my staff shouted, ‘Come quick.’ I ran outside and saw one of the students running, stumbling down the road towards me, while his friend went the other way.
“There was a local man standing outside a white Perodua Viva car. There were other men inside the car.
“He looked right into my eyes when he saw me and slowly walked around the side of the car and got inside the passenger seat.
“He was trying to act all cool in front of his friends, but his eyes were wide like two moons. I don’t know if he was on drugs, but he wasn’t acting normally.
“Nobody acts like that after stabbing someone. It was like it was nothing to him.”
Mr Ran told how he rushed to dying Neil’s aid but there was little he could do to save him.
As relatives of the pair prepared to fly to Borneo to identify their bodies, the businessman said: “I went to help Neil, who collapsed on the road.
“I said to him, ‘I’ll call for help, hold on’ and I ran back into my bistro. I called emergency services and went back outside. I sat with him and just kept saying, ‘Hold on, just hold on, help is on its way.’”
After 10 minutes, Mr Ran and another waiter from his bistro spotted Aidan collapsed further up the road.
He said: “We thought he had escaped. I saw him running up the road. But he had collapsed like his friend. Douglas went to help him.
“Then I went between the two of them, waiting for the ambulance.”
Three of the suspects tested positive for crystal meth – or methamphetamine. It is sold on the island as white powder in plastic straws.
Officers have seized a knife, believed to be the murder weapon, as well as the Perodua Viva car.
Fishmonger Zulkipli Abdullah, 24, mechanic Yeo Kia Sing, 29, and jobless Remy Bin Marjuki, 19, appeared before a Kuching magistrate just hours after Wednesday’s stabbings on the Malaysian part of Borneo.
Abdul Aziz Bin Karim, 35, who is said to have been arrested after going on the run, was in court today.
Neil and Aidan were on a three-month placement, or elective, at Sarawak General Hospital, which was due to finish today.
Acting deputy police chief Datuk Dr Chai Khin Chung said they had got into a row with the men on the next table.
He added: “After a prolonged argument the students left the bar on foot and were followed in a car. They came from behind and stabbed them.
“This is an isolated and unprecedented case fuelled by the excessive consumption of alcohol by both parties, and is in no way related to gangsterism.”
Neil, from Belper, Derbys, and Aidan, of Gillingham, Kent, were part of a large group of overseas students based at Sarawak Hospital.
Medical director Dr Chin Zin Hing said: “This is very sad. We are trying to provide counselling for the students here.
“We currently have about 20 British elective students.”
Newcastle University have sent two members of staff to Kuching to offer support to others still on placements.