A desperate search has been launched for a young British mother and her two children who have disappeared from their home in the small town of Boliqueime, Algarve.
Christine Davies, 28, vanished on April 4 with daughters Lily, 18 months, and three-month-old Ruby while father Aaron Rodwell, 29, was out running errands.
When he returned, he says his family had disappeared, as well as around €6,000 in cash and all the children’s documents.
“I am beside myself with worry,” Rodwell has told newspapers.
“I have no doubts Christine has left voluntarily but I’m concerned for her emotional wellbeing and obviously our children.”
“She loves them and I’m sure wouldn’t do them any harm – but that doesn’t mean they’re not at risk if she’s emotionally not in the right frame of mind,” he said.
The devastated father has been putting missing posters in the windows of local shops and businesses as well as Faro Airport, while GNR police have confirmed they are investigating the disappearance, though they still don’t have any firm leads.
“I really want her to contact the authorities so I know the children are okay, even if she doesn’t want to come home,” said Rodwell.
Apparently, a neighbour saw a man in a hire car coming to pick her up and helping her load the vehicle up on the day they disappeared.
“The house was in a bit of a mess so it looks like she packed in a hurry.”
The family, originally from Liverpool, moved to the Algarve around a year ago after Rodwell recovered from a “serious car accident”. Rodwell and Davies had apparently been together for around 15 years.
“We were both unemployed, but as I’m receiving a disability pension we decided to move to the Algarve,” he told Diário de Notícias.
Davies had found work at a local bar, while Rodwell stayed at home looking after the children.
A customer of the bar Davies worked at has told the UK’s Mirror: “I used to have a drink with her. She was a lovely, down-to-earth girl, who seemed to be loving her new life in the sun.”
He added that Davies “certainly never seemed to complain about anything and seemed like she really enjoyed her time out here”.
Rodwell has admitted the couple had their “ups and downs and arguments,” but guarantees “the situation wasn’t that bad that she needed to run off like she has”.
He also claims he didn’t notice anything amiss the night before she disappeared with their children.
“I rang her the night before she disappeared asking her to come home early so she could be with the children because I needed help,” he said.
“She was supposed to finish about 10pm that night but came back about 7pm.
“I left early the following day to go into Albufeira and run some errands and that was the last time I saw her or heard from her.”
Her mobile phone is not working anymore and her email has been disconnected, he added.
“Lily had an active UK passport which has gone, along with Christine’s but the younger one didn’t have one as far as I’m aware and I’ve checked with the British embassy who say no emergency travel document has been drafted.”
Aaron says he can’t sleep at the house anymore and has checked into a hotel.
“I just can’t stand looking at the walls and the children’s toys that are still on the floor.”
Meantime, the UK’s Foreign Office has confirmed it is “providing advice and support to a British national who has reported three members of his family missing in Portugal”.