Whoever killed my hero soldier boyfriend tried to drug me too
Apr 6 2011 James Moncur
He had paid for their first trip abroad together as a 21st birthday present for his childhood sweetheart.
The girlfriend of tragic Scots soldier Darren Lackie last night demanded a full investigation into his holiday death.
Shattered Ashleigh Wilson fears their drinks were spiked in the hours before her boyfriend was found lying unconscious in a Portuguese resort.
His cash and top-of-the-range mobile phone were missing.
Pretty hairdresser Ashleigh had complained of feeling unwell and unusually sleepy on the evening before Darren vanished.
When she next saw him in hospital, she identified him by a tattoo which read: "Laugh now, cry later."
Black Watch lance corporal Darren never regained consciousness and died on Sunday.
Local police claimed the 6ft 3in soldier banged his head on a pavement after an accidental fall and that "no one else was involved".
But yesterday, Darren's father Graham revealed that the case has been reopened after he held talks with Portuguese authorities.
Toxicology reports showed Darren was sober when he was discovered.
But traces of a barbiturate commonly found in sleeping pills were discovered in his system.
Ashleigh fought back the tears yesterday as she recalled her last moments with Darren and her frantic search for him around the resort of Albufeira the following day.
As she tried to find her boyfriend, also 21, she didn't know he was fighting for his life in intensive care.
Speaking from her home in Cupar, Fife, Ashleigh said: "It was the worst six hours of my life. I woke up in the morning and Darren wasn't there.
"His phone was ringing out and I was frantic with worry because it was so out of character for him.
"I phoned our parents and spoke to the hotel. I eventually got some sense out of the police and hospital and tracked Darren down."
The couple had spent their last night together having a couple of drinks at the Scots Rocks bar. They weren't drunk and were enjoying a quiet, relaxing time together.
Ashleigh said: "There is something very wrong about what happened. I had to go home early that night.
"I think our drinks may have been spiked. We'd only had a couple at a local bar, but I felt really unwell.
"Darren took me back and as soon as I got in, I went to sleep and didn't wake up for nearly nine hours, which is very unusual. I've never felt like that before."
Ashleigh woke up to an empty room at her family's timeshare apartment in the Oura-View Beach Club last Thursday.
She said: "Darren was nowhere to be seen and I had a feeling something was seriously wrong."
After desperate calls home and a trip to the local police station, Ashleigh discovered that Darren was in hospital in Faro.
The hotel arranged a driver to take her there and she identified him by his tattoos - the motto "Laugh now, cry later" on the inside of his arms, an unfinished tribal design on his shoulder and a camel on his toe.
Ashleigh was told Darren had fallen and hit his head - but his injuries didn't match that scenario.
He had a slight graze on his head and an injury behind his ear.
She also discovered that when he was found, his treasured HTC mobile phone and cash were missing.
While Ashleigh waited at Darren's bedside, her mum Barbara and his parents Graham and Helen took the first flight to Portugal the next day.
Ashleigh said: "I've never felt so alone in my life.
"No one spoke English and I was in the hospital room with Darren.
"There were tubes everywhere but he didn't have a mark on him. He looked very peaceful and asleep.
"He was such a big, strong guy, it was horrible seeing him looking so helpless in that bed. There was nothing I could do for him."
Barbara, Graham and Helen arrived on Friday but by then, it was obvious that Darren had suffered a catastrophic head injury.
Ashleigh returned home and Darren passed away on Mother's Day with Graham and Helen by his side.
Recalled her last moments with her boyfriend, Ashleigh said: "I told him I loved him and that he had to get better soon to get home and get his tattoo finished. Leaving him there was the hardest thing I've ever had to do. I couldn't believe I'd lost him."
The couple met as first-years at Bell Baxter High School in Fife. They had an on-off relationship during school until Darren left to join up at 16.
They became an item again in November 2009, after he returned from his first tour of Afghanistan
He was preparing for his second trip to the war zone but had talked about settling down with Ashleigh.
Her mum Barbara said: "We all loved him. He was the best thing that had happened to Ashleigh.
"He was the perfect boyfriend who did everything for her and looked after her everywhere they went.
"It's just so tragic that his life has been cut short like this."
Darren's dad Graham, 51, was in talks with Portuguese prosecutors yesterday. He believes that police covered up his son's death to protect the local tourist trade.
After the meeting, the postie from Cupar confirmed the case had been reopened. He added: "Whatever happens now, there will have to be some sort of conclusion."
"It's obvious looking at all the medical and toxicology evidence that something untoward has happened to my son and that he was attacked and robbed of his possessions.
"Whatever happens, I will never give up until the truth is uncovered."