Edition 1453
09 December 2017
Edition: 1453

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British holiday rep ‘attempting to flee past relationship’ targeted in Algarve acid attack

by Carrie-Marie Bratley, in Algarve · 11-05-2017 14:46:00 · 0 Comments

PJ police are investigating after a 28-year-old British woman was left with serious burns to over half of her body following a terrifying acid attack on a street in the Portimão suburb of Alvor, Algarve, on Saturday night, allegedly instigated by a jilted ex-boyfriend.

British holiday rep ‘attempting to flee past relationship’ targeted in Algarve acid attack

Victim Eleanor Ruth Chessell, from Newport on the Isle of Wight, was rushed to a specialist burns unit at the Santa Maria Hospital in the Portuguese capital Lisbon at the weekend following the horrific attack.
She is understood to have been working on the Portuguese island of Madeira as a holiday rep for company TUI before moving to the Algarve in March, in an attempt to distance herself from an “intimidating relationship”, according to sources close to the case.
She was working at the Hotel Alvor Baia, having been previously transferred from a hotel in Albufeira after being harassed by the man she had met in Madeira and who reportedly tracked her down to the mainland.
The attack took place at around 10.20pm on Saturday night, on the EM 531-1 road, a street just a stone’s throw away from a private hospital in the area.
The village of Alvor, in Portimão, is known for being a picturesque fisherman’s village but also a hotspot for restaurants and nightlife.
The circumstances leading up to the attack are being investigated by PJ police but indications are that it may have been carried out by the vengeful ex-boyfriend, or ordered by him.
This theory is being put forward after Ms. Chessell reportedly told police she had seen her attacker but did not recognise him, and that he had said “sorry” to her in Portuguese before throwing the corrosive liquid at her.
According to Portuguese media, around two litres of acid were thrown at the woman, landing on her arms, legs and stomach, but missed her face.
She was found “writhing on the floor, screaming in pain, from the burns that covered around 60 percent of her body”, Portuguese newspaper Correio da Manhã reported.
She was assisted by local fire-fighters and GNR officers before being rushed to Portimão city Hospital, and was later transferred to the specialist burns unit due to the severity of her injuries.
Two of her rescuers, thought to be GNR officers, also required treatment after inhaling fumes from the acid.
The investigation is ongoing.
The case is highly unusual in Portugal, with the last known similar attack having occurred over 16 years ago, in Leiria, when a jilted woman threw sulphuric acid at her ex-boyfriend, resulting in his death.
The incident occurred on 21 May, 2001, and the man died 23 days later from his injuries.
After an eight-year trial, the woman was considered ‘unimputable’ – not criminally liable – by the court due to a psychiatric problem.
At the time, the presiding judge said she was “affected by a psychiatric illness that did not allow her to have an accurate perception of her actions.”
The court ruled that the defendant be admitted to a psychiatric unit, a measure that was suspended on the condition she maintained psychiatric treatment and followed the guidelines of the social reintegration services.
She was however held civilly liable for paying the costs of the victim’s hospital expenses and ordered to pay compensation to the victim’s mother of around €80,000.
Portugal has a relatively low murder rate, of around 100 homicides per year, although femicide (murders specifically targeting women based on their gender, often within a context of domestic violence) accounts for around one third of those.

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Edition 1453
09 December 2017
Edition: 1453

Read this week's issue online exactly as it appears in print.

Twitter