British tourists to Portugal have been warned to be on their guard after the death of a man who was savagely beaten in the street by a gang of youths.
Ian Haggath, 50, from Dunston, near Gateshead, was left unconscious in a pool of blood after being set upon in Albufeira in the Algarve a fortnight ago by a gang linked to at least two other attacks. He died in hospital on Wednesday.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has now revised its travel guidance to Britons heading for the Algarve and warned them to remain alert at all times. Consulate officials have been in contact with the local police to try to establish how serious the threat is. A spokeswoman for the FCO said yesterday: "Clearly the death is a matter of concern and the way he died. We are concerned about the possibility of violent attacks and take this matter very seriously. We have updated our travel advice to warn against the possibility of violent attacks and are in contact with the police and local authorities."
Mr Haggarth suffered fatal head injuries in an attack by four people feared to be from the same gang that attacked and killed another Briton, Darren Lackie, 22, in March and knifed an Irish tourist, David Hoban, 44, who survived, a few days later.
All three men were waylaid in the Montechoro strip part of Albufeira, where much of the popular Mediterranean resort's crime takes place. It is full of bright lights, bars and clubs.
Mr Haggarth, who was described as "mild-mannered and friendly", was walking back to his hotel in the early hours of the morning when he was attacked on 15 May. The ferocity of the beating left him with a fractured skull, bleeding on the brain and broken cheek bones. Three holiday-makers found him lying unconscious in the street and tried to give him first aid after calling an ambulance.
A few minutes earlier another tourist had been taunted and abused by a gang of youths, and had stones thrown at him. One of the gang of four was described as having ginger hair, as was one of those who attacked Mr Hogan, from Dublin, in April.
Mr Lackie, a Black Watch soldier from Cupar, Fife, who had completed a tour of Afghanistan and was preparing for a second, was found with a severe head injury. Police initially treated his death as the result of a drunken fall but a fresh inquiry was launched when medical reports showed that he had not been drinking heavily. His father, Graham, was convinced that his son's death was murder and he told a local newspaper: "A number of expats have been in touch since I got here and they say there have been a lot of muggings but that they are kept pretty quiet — presumably because it is bad publicity.
"Prosecutors asked me to put my case forward, explaining why I believe what happened was no accident. I cited the medical reports and told them that I believe Darren was assaulted. Darren was not drunk when he died."
About 1.6 million Britons travel to Portugal each year and in its travel advice for people travelling to the Algarve the FCO says that the number of violent attacks in Portugal is low but that there is still a need to take care.
It states: "Be aware that alcohol and drugs can make you less alert, less in control and less aware of your environment. If you are going to drink, know your limit and remember that drinks served in bars overseas are often much stronger than those in the UK. Street crime is occasionally accompanied by violence. Remain alert and guard valuable personal items at all times."