A 21-year-old Scottish soldier has died after a fall in Albufeira during a holiday with his childhood sweetheart in the Algarve.
Lance Corporal Darren Lackie of the Black Watch, who had served in Afghanistan, was found lying on the ground with a head injury near Oura in Albufeira during the early hours of Thursday, 31 March.
It is understood Mr. Lackie fell and hit his head on the pavement after a night out in the popular tourist town.
A spokesman from Faro Hospital told The Portugal News that, upon admittance, Mr. Lackie’s state of health was “very serious” and he was put on life support.
He died on Sunday morning.
PJ police initially appeared to suggest Mr. Lackie’s death was accidental, that “no one else was involved” and the 6ft 3in solider died from fatal head injuries.
But these are suggestions his family are vehemently disputing.
Mr. Lackie’s father Graham, 51, a postman from Cupar, Fife, flew out to the Algarve immediately after learning of the incident. He is demanding a full investigation into the circumstances surrounding his son’s death.
“Police have said there was no evidence of it being anything but an accident. Everyone assumed Darren was drunk” his distraught father told The Portugal News on Wednesday this week.
“He might have had a couple of pints but nothing excessive. He was a soldier. He didn’t fall down drunk – that’s a lie.”
Mr. Lackie Sr. says a toxicology report carried out following his son’s death showed “minimal levels” of alcohol. But several unconfirmed reports have claimed traces of a barbiturate commonly found in sleeping pills were found in the soldier’s system, leading to suspicions his drink may have been spiked.
Darren Lackie’s girlfriend Ashleigh Wilson, also 21, reinforced those reports. She told a Scottish newspaper “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.
She said that her boyfriend had taken her back to the hotel 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.”
After she woke up the following morning Ashleigh endured a frantic six-hour search for her boyfriend, who she eventually tracked down in Faro Hospital’s intensive care ward.
According to the newspaper, it was the couple’s first trip abroad together. The tragic incident is believed to have occurred on the last night of their holiday.
Mr. Lackie Sr. also believes foul play was involved and has held talks with the Portuguese Public Prosecutor’s office.
He said that on the night of his death Darren had been carrying a “brand new iPhone” that “has never been found.”
While Mr. Lackie says his priority is to “get Darren home”, he also said “I don’t want to go and then find it’s all been brushed under the carpet.”
“I know my son and I know something’s not right”, he argued.
Sources from both the Public Prosecutor’s office and the Albufeira judicial courts confirmed to The Portugal News “an investigation is ongoing”, as they seek to establish whether the solider died “of natural causes” or whether foul play was involved.
Carrie-Marie Bratley & Eloise Walton