Friends quizzed over “mystery death” of English businessman in Vilamoura

An inquest into the unexplained death of a wealthy English businessman in the Algarve 10 years ago has finally opened this week in Woking, Surrey, reports The Mirror.

According to the British tabloid, Charlie Raper died in 2005 while on a golfing holiday with 17 friends in Vilamoura.

He was found with “serious injuries” in a Vilamoura car park after the group – friends from “the City” rugby and university – had taken part in “drinking games”, one of which involved a “figurine” called “PC Plod.”

Little is said about why the inquest has only opened now, though one of Raper’s friends admitted to using a PR company to prevent “any negative publicity around his death”.

Writes The Mirror, “it’s still unclear whether Raper was run over by a friend driving a minibus, stabbed, fell off a wall or was robbed”.

Raper was taken to hospital after being found, but died after an operation to remove his spleen.

One of the main suspicions appears to be that Raper may have been run over by one of his friends – but that does not explain the alleged stab wounds.

According to The Mirror, the inquest heard that one of the friends, Ian “Dessie” Desmond – described as “very drunk” at the time – had been at the wheel of a minibus which “could have struck Mr Raper”.

David Currie, the only friend heard so far, has admitted that Desmond “was fully aware he may have reversed over Mr Raper”.

“He said something like ‘I found Charlie’, it was clear something was wrong and it was serious,” he told the inquest.

“I ran down and saw the minibus door was open, the lights were shining and I saw Charlie was lying on his back,” Curry added.

“It was clear he had been hurt, he was making a noise but it was clear he was in a bad way. He might have been mumbling the odd word.”

After the incident, Curry said he called Raper’s firm, Blue Hackle in London, to ask about his insurance details.

“I told them he could have fallen from a wall, been stabbed or hit by a car,” he said, adding that “a member of the medical staff said he had been stabbed.”

“There was a lot of confusion,” said Curry, who explained that he told Raper’s wife that her husband had fallen off a wall “because I thought it would cause the least distress”.

He also said he used a PR company to prevent “any negative publicity” around Raper’s death.

The Mirror writes that the 10-day hearing started on Monday morning, with evidence expected to be heard from many of Raper’s friends.

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