Apr 5 2011 James Moncur
THE dad of a Scots soldier who died on holiday in Portugal says his son was murdered.
Black Watch hero Darren Lackie lost his fight for life in an intensive care ward in Faro on Mother's Day.
The 21-year-old's parents, Graham and Helen, of Cupar in Fife, were at his bedside when he passed away.
Local police claimed the 6ft 3in lance corporal, who was on holiday with girlfriend Ashleigh Wilson, banged his head on a pavement after an accidental fall and that "no one else was involved".
But Graham claims the police are covering up his son's death and is demanding a detailed investigation into what happened. He revealed that a toxicology report showed traces of an unusual barbiturate sleeping pill in the young soldiers system.The report also showed that Darren, who was preparing for a second tour of Afghanistan, had very low alcohol levels and that when he was found, his mobile phone and money were missing.
Graham, a 51-year-old postman, said last night: "My son's death does not add up at all. Hes a big lad who was very streetwise."The toxicology report showed he'd only drunk a couple of pints and it was negative for all drugs.
"But it did show up traces of an unusual barbiturate. I asked the doctor what it was and she said it was used as a sleeping pill.
"She then put her hands together at the side of her face and shut her eyes to reinforce the idea of going to sleep."
Fighting back tears, he added: "Darren never ever took drugs and had absolutely no reason to take a sleeping pill.
"He was an exemplary soldier one of the best of his generation and knew that drugs are a one-way ticket out of the Army.
"The only explanation for the barbiturate is that it was put in his drink to either knock him out or slow him down.
"He had a top-of-the-range phone which he really looked after and he always had money in his pocket when £10 would do, he'd have £30.
"But when he was found, the phone and all his money were gone.
"I'm certain he was set up and jumped but the Portuguese police don't want anything to do with it.
"They've got a history for wanting cases closed as soon as possible with no fuss or bother."
Graham said his sons only visible injury was a very slight graze to the forehead but there was another injury behind his left ear as if he'd been struck there, which Graham felt as he cradled his sons head.
He added: "The doctors were of the opinion they weren't consistent with him having fallen down a set of stairs and striking his head.
"There was no injury at the rear of his head, near the crown, where you'd expect one if he'd tumbled over and banged himself."
Darren was found on a pavement in the Algarve resort of Albufeira early on Thursday morning.
He had just taken hairdresser Ashleigh, 21, back to their apartment after she felt unwell and had planned to return to a bar where they had been drinking earlier.Darren never regained consciousness after he was discovered with just his hotel room key on him.
His pupils were dilated and he was immediately transferred to the intensive care ward, where he was put on a life-support machine.
When Ashleigh was told of the incident, she phoned his family, who immediately booked flights to the resort, which is located on Portugal's southern coast.
Graham and Helen, a 50-year-old nurse, arrived on Friday and were told there was little chance of their son surviving his catastrophic brain injury.
Darren's brothers Ben, 16, and Calvin, 20, remained in Scotland, where they were being supported by other family members.
Darren's parents remained with him over the weekend until he passed away on Sunday morning.
Graham said: "He died a soldier's death. He looked very peaceful and calm and when Helen told him he could go if he wanted, the numbers on the machine suddenly fell away and he left us.
"It also meant we didn't have to switch off his life support."
Darren, a former Bell Baxter High School pupil, was on leave when the tragedy happened. His unit are currently in Germany preparing for their next tour of Afghanistan.
As well as serving there, Darren also saw action in Kenya, the Falklands and Belfast.
The British Army said they will offer every support to his family. A unit padre and a welfare service officer have already made contact and are doing all they can to help.
Darren's CO, Lieutenant Colonel Ed Fenton, paid a glowing to the young man last night.
He said: "It is with deep regret that we learn of the tragic death of L/Cpl Darren Lackie whilst on much-deserved leave in Faro, Portugal.
"In L/Cpl Lackie, The Black Watch, 3rd Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland (3 SCOTS) has lost one of its young rising stars, who had already taken the first steps towards higher rank and greater responsibility. Bright, enthusiastic, brave and entirely professional, he was a very popular member of B Company and the Battalion.
"Lance Corporal Lackie will be very much missed by us all and his many close friends in B Company in particular. He leaves a loving family and girlfriend who are very much in our thoughts and prayers."
A Foreign Office spokesman said: "We can confirm the death of a British national in Faro, Portugal. We were informed of this on April 3 and we continue to provide consular assistance."