UK tabloids were back in force in the Algarve this week following an horrific acid attack on a 29-year-old travel rep working for Tui at Hotel Alvor Baía.
Blonde Eleanor (“Ellie”) Chessell is in a serious condition at a burns unit in Lisbon – 60% of her body scarred by a virulent corrosive liquid tipped over her in what police are said to be regarding as an organised hit.
The quantity of liquid involved (reportedly two litres) was such that “it left burn marks on the road and pavement, and scorched nearby undergrowth”, wrote the Telegraph, while the Daily Mail, Mirror and Sun all attested to witnesses saying that Ms Chessell’s clothes melted on her body “like wax”.
The Mirror was the first to reveal that the attacker said “sorry” before he doused his unsuspecting victim with two-litres worth of acid – and all reports stress that the terribly injured young woman did not recognise him.
This has led to the theory of an organised hit instigated by an abusive former partner who Ms Chessell met while working in Madeira.
Portuguese media on Wednesday confirmed that the young travel rep actually moved from Madeira in order to try and distance herself from her former lover, and that she had been receiving “threats” (unspecified) before she was lured into a bogus meeting on a quiet Alvor street shortly after 10pm last Saturday.
With so much media interest, colleagues at Hotel Alvor Baia have apparently been “ordered not to talk about Ellie”, and little this far has been published about any family members who may now be in Lisbon accompanying her.
Ms Chessell is described as coming from Newport, in the Isle of Wight.
The BBC in a short report says Hampshire constabulary are “supporting” Ms Chessell’s family.
Initially, reports said the young woman was so badly injured that she “could not speak”. By the time rescue services came to her aid, she was “writhing in agony” on the ground – her face apparently almost unscathed, but the damage concentrated on her “arms, stomach and legs”.
Three policeman attending the scene were overcome by fumes from the acid and had to receive treatment in hospital.
PJ investigators will be now have taken as many details as possible, and should be on the trail of both the attacker and the person who hired him.
Both men involved are believed to be Portuguese, or at least Portuguese-speaking.
Anyone who was in Alvor last Saturday night, particularly in the area near Intermarché where Ellie Chessell was attacked – and who believes they may have seen something relevant to this story – should get in touch with their local police.