WHILE OUT walking his dog in the open countryside near his home in Barreiras Brancas, Loulé, nearly two-and-a-half-years ago, 83-year-old Britisher Dr. Vickers was assaulted by a hunter at gunpoint. The case will be heard at Loulé court next month and Dr. Vickers recently spoke to The Resident’s Caroline Cunha about his frightening experience.
“I was taking my usual evening walk with my dog, a Collie named Domingo. I usually proceed over a hill where I live, to a point opposite an old house,” he explained. “From there, it is possible to enjoy a wonderful view over the hills to São Brás. I always take my dog to the same area for exercise.”
On that fateful evening in December 2003, there were three hunters in the valley, two in front of Dr. Vickers, but far away, and one just behind him. “As I stopped at my usual point opposite the old house, and proceeded to admire the view and get my breath back, the one hunter came up to me from behind. He shouted something I didn’t understand, nor heard well. I am somewhat deaf and wear a hearing aid. I, therefore, stood still and looked at him, whereupon this hunter raised his shotgun and pointed it at my head and shoulders. I would estimate his distance from me as being approximately two metres,” continued Dr. Vickers. “Having received weapons training during the war, I knew I should stand perfectly still, but he struck me on the shoulder and, after a second blow, almost knocked me over.”
Fortunately, Dr. Vickers and his wife had taken to carrying walky-talkies with them on their walks, as sometimes they chose to take different routes and felt safer in possession of the gadgets. This way, they would be contactable in case either of them was taken ill or suffered a fall.
At that point, Dr. Vickers got out his radio and contacted his wife, who was somewhere in the vicinity, and informed her that he was being attacked by a hunter with a shotgun. On that day, Mrs. Vickers was walking their other two Alsatians, a little way away.
“When I recovered my balance, he pointed his shotgun at me again, while at the same time shouting “anda” (walk), so I carefully walked away up the hill, back to where I had come from,” Dr. Vickers said.
Walking back, Dr. Vickers noticed two other men, around 300 metres from where the incident had happened. By chance, he also saw three vehicles parked in a clearing. Assuming they must belong to the hunters, he took down the registration numbers and details of the makes and models.
“Further away, my wife and I came across a vehicle that we believe was from the forestry authorities. I reported the incident to the two officers, who told me to make an official complaint at Loulé police station,” told Dr. Vickers.
This he did and, after returning several times to make statements, he was called to the police station to identify his aggressor. A criminal case has been brought to court and will be heard at Loulé courthouse on May 4. “I don’t think people who do this kind of thing should get away with it,” the ex-serviceman told The Resident. “I expected to be shot. Although I didn’t suffer physically, I did suffer a certain amount of mental anguish and psychological damage, as I thought the end of my life had come.”
The area where Dr. Vickers was threatened is not a ‘Zona de Caça’ (hunting concession); it is open countryside, giving the hunter absolutely no grounds to ask Dr. Vickers to move away, let alone brutally force him to leave.
Now, the accused must answer the charges in court. When we asked Dr. Vickers what he thought the outcome of the case would be, he commented: “It is not going to be easy because it is his word against mine.
I really thought my end had come. I thought he was a mad person, who was just going to pull the trigger on me. This was an act of blatant aggression,” lamented the expatriate, who has been living in Portugal for nine years. “I can’t believe it has taken so long for this man to be dealt with. This was a serious offence and in many countries he would already be behind bars. I spent 50 years living in Africa and it’s difficult to believe that this has happened to me here, in Portugal, of all places.”
Due to Domingo’s non-aggressive nature, he took no part in the incident, nor reacted to the assault. “If it had been me, and not my wife, walking our Alsatians that day, which incidentally are trained guard dogs we brought with us from South Africa, it might have been a different story. I think they would have taken great exception to that man,” he said.
Brave Dr. Vickers still walks his dogs in the same area, everyday, and confirms he has never seen the hunter there again. The Resident will be bringing you an update on this story following the court’s verdict.