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Mother kills three-year-old by dousing car in petrol and setting light to it

A 40-year-old woman has died alongside her three-year-old son after dousing the back seat of their car with petrol, and setting light to it.

The horrific case of murder/suicide – prompted say reports by a bitter custody battle – is the sixth child this year to be murdered by a Portuguese mother.

Débora Silva’s last words to her unsuspecting relatives were: “I am going for a drive with Tomás and won’t be long.”

The housewife from the community of Ribeirinha on the island of São Miguel in the Azores then drove to a rural spot beside Ribeira Grande, got into the back seat with her son, “poured petrol over the seats, and set light to the vehicle”, reports Correio da Manhã.

Firefighters called to the scene were not aware at first that there was anyone inside the blazing Ford Fiesta.

It was only once they had put out the flames that they saw the bodies inside.

Locals who rushed to the scene are described as in shock.

Silva was known as someone ‘reserved’ who had been unusually anxious in the last few days, says CM.

The reason was an upcoming court decision over custody of Tomás.

That decision came through hours before Silva killed her son and herself. The judge had ruled that Tomás’ father should be allowed to see his son every two weeks.

According to CM, the couple’s relationship had been short-lived, ending before Tomás’ was born.

As family members are reported to be venting their grief over social media, and vowing ‘revenge’, CM says an autopsy due today will be able to determine whether Tomás was alive at the time of the fire.

The tragedy comes in the same week that the body of a newborn was found on scrubground in Santarém (click here) and less than two weeks since Barcelos mother Susana Pereira leapt from a bridge clutching her six-year-old son, Carlos, whose body was only recovered 23 hours later (click here).

It also follows the double-drowning of two children in the Tejo in February (click here) and the poisoning of an 11-year-old boy in Madeira (click here).

All the deaths were caused by the children’s mothers.

natasha.donn@algarveresident.com