Monday, April 2, 2012

Portugal: Father of British Tourist Endeavors to Prove His Son was Murdered

According to a news report contained in, Britain's Royal Highland Regiment soldier Darren Lackie, 21, from Cupar, Scotland, was fatally injured at a Albufeira resort a year ago [2011] while on holiday with his girlfriend, Ashleigh Wilson.

Mr. Lackie's father, Graham, has consistently insisted that he he was mugged and murdered, even though Portuguese officials contend that the young Briton died from a drunken fall.

Additionally, MP Sir Menzies Campbell is among those calling for a probe, saying he had urged Britain's Foreign Office to ''raise the issue'' with the Portuguese authorities.

The elder Lackie does not accept the explanation given by the authorities that Darren's head injuries were caused by a fall and his argument is supported by a medical report indicating that heavy drinking had not been a factor in the tourist's death.

Graham Lackie's efforts have also demonstrated that traces of barbiturates found in Darren's blood, suggest that he may have been drugged, robbed and then killed.

COMMENT: Just weeks after Darren's death, Ian Haggath, 50, from Dunston near Gateshead, was assaulted in Albufeira and later died from his injuries, prompting the Foreign Office to issue a crime warning to British tourists. David Hoban, 44, from Ireland, was also stabbed in Albufeira, but survived.

Lackie fears the circumstances surrounding his son's death may have been covered up to protect the tourist industry in Portugal, which is a common thread we have seen elsewhere around the world, where proactive law enforcement is often deficient.

As part of Graham Lackie's efforts to find out what exactly happened to his son, Darren Lackie's mobile phone has also been found and is currently being forensically evaluated by EUROPOL, (short for European Police Office) is the European Union's criminal intelligence agency. It became fully operational on July 1, 1999, and has a staff of nearly 700. Hopefully, EUROPOL will uncover new leads that support the motive behind Darren Lackie's death.

Having spent two decades as a US Department of State special agent, and having worked another ten years as a senior security adviser for an international organization, the one objective analysis that I can make is that the US Department of State and the 195 foreign ministries who represent the international interests of all nations, generally do a substandard job of investigating the facts surround foreign nationals who suspiciously die, are killed, injured or disappear while abroad.

In actuality, the only organization that possesses the resources to determine what happened to foreign travelers who are injured, disappear or die or are killed abroad is the foreign affairs agency representing their interests.

Unfortunately, most national-level foreign affairs agencies respond best to external pressure, which often involves victims and/or family members contacting their legislative representatives to nudge such agencies into action, which is why I often suggest that family members of those travelers who encounter problems abroad ask for legislators' help in writing, early in the process.

A good example of what I'm referring to is the February 2012 murder of US businesswoman Wendy Albano, 51, who allegedly was murdered in her apartment in Bangkok by her identified Indian boyfriend, even in knowing what flight and airline he departed Bangkok on the day he killed Ms. Albano. To date, he has not been located or arrested.

Admittedly, many foreign affairs agencies do not have the resources to help victims and family members determine the facts surrounding what occurred abroad, but clearly in the case of a homicide or disappearance, agency action should translate far beyond contacting local police to see what they've found out.

If foreign affairs agencies do not have the resources to truly help victims and families, they should be transparent enough to make that fact clear to their citizens, so that they know they're on their own, as Mr. Lackie discovered in the case of his son's death.

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