by SOPHIE MCCARRICK [email protected]
A 29-year old woman was attacked by a youth in broad daylight while walking back to her home in Barão de São Miguel, Vila do Bispo, from Barão de São João, Lagos, on February 1.
The incident took place at approximately 2.30pm following a trip to the local Multibanco.
Emma Thomas, who has lived in the Algarve since 1998, told the Algarve Resident that she and a friend were followed by a man on a bicycle.
“To look at he was clean and well dressed, the type of man you could walk past in the street and not feel threatened by,” said Emma.
The man, who she described as being in his early 20s and of Portuguese heritage, continued to follow the pair from a main road onto a quiet, scarcely used lane, when things took a turn for the worse.
“He caught up with us, got off his bike and jumped on me, wrestling me to the floor and forcing himself on top of me.
“It was then that I knew he was trying to rape me as he began to pull vigorously at my trousers, pulling them down,” said Emma.
Her 18-year old friend tried to help but, said Emma, due to her petite physique she was thrown to the ground.
As Emma cried out for help, the friend ran to the main road in search of assistance.
Emma managed to fight off the attacker, who eventually fled, leaving her with bloody scratches and cuts to her body, bruising and with much of her clothing ripped off.
“In the face of the attacker, I was completely calm and didn’t let him think for a second that he had a chance to rape me, I kept on hitting him and looked him straight in the eyes,” said Emma.
Peter Thomas, Emma’s husband, told the Algarve Resident: “I can’t believe this has happened to my wife. I am furious. What worries me is that this man is still out there in our community.
Many young girls are about, and we are concerned about their safety.”
He said he had heard of other recent incidents where women endured “intimidating confrontations” with a man matching the description of Emma’s assailant.
“Someone who we know, and who I will not name, experienced difficulty with this man two weeks prior to Emma’s attack.” said Peter Thomas.
“It was night time and dark when he approached her, asking her for a cigarette lighter. As she flicked the lighter open, it was then that she saw that he had exposed himself.”
He said he had also heard of other cases where a man of a similar description had exposed himself to women in the street.
The attack on Emma was reported to the GNR, who returned to the scene of the attack later the same day with Emma to take photographs, before taking her to the GNR station in Portimão where her injuries and ripped clothing were photographed.
“I was lucky not to have been raped and am thankful that I was strong enough to escape him,” said Emma.
“However, I feel like now I must warn my community about this man,” she added.
A spokesman from the GNR police confirmed that the incident had been reported to them and that they were currently dealing with the case.
On February 2, a 16 year old suspect was arrested and taken to the GNR station in Lagos, where he was questioned and examined for bruises.
Emma and the friend who had witnessed the crime were then asked to identify the suspect and his bike in a line up.
The suspect was later released and is awaiting a court hearing.
Initially, Emma had told the police that she wished she had taken a different route home, sticking to the main road where an event like this would possibly not have happened.
However, one week after the event, Emma told the Algarve Resident: “I take what I said back. I am glad that this happened to me and not somebody weaker who might not have been able to fight him off. I am glad that I can now help put him away.”
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