The British family in the press spotlight today after a burglar died following chokehold restraint in their villa in Vilamoura has been described by detectives as “very upset”.
“They have been through a very bad time,” a source for the Polícia Judiciária told the Resident. “And it could obviously get worse. They are worried, of course.”
Nonetheless, the family of three – parents in their 50s and a son in his 20s – is facing no charges for the time being, and should any of them wish to return to England they are perfectly at liberty to do so.
“They would only have to tell us where they are going,” said the spokesman, who explained it is not up to the PJ to decide whether the force restraining the burglar – caught red-handed in the early hours of Sunday morning – was excessive or proportionate.
That decision lies with the Public Ministry, which is awaiting the results of the autopsy.
Meantime, the PJ source told us that the thief, a Portuguese national, was well known to police, and had previously been to prison.
Whether he was known for crimes involving violence was not established.
“I do not know his file from memory,” said the source. “All I can confirm is that he was known, he had a criminal record and he had previously been to jail.”
An autopsy – which may or may not prove any culpability on the part of the British men who restrained the burglar – is not expected for “at least two days”.
The source explained that the Institute of Legal Medicine was an “outside entity”, not bound by any kind of deadlines. “We just have to wait,” he said.
The PJ are not authorised to give “abstract” information, like general advice to homeowners who find themselves confronted with a burglar, but, in this case, as Sky News’ crime correspondent Martin Brunt has explained: “It all boils down to how much self-defence a homeowner is allowed to use.”
In this case, it was the father and son who restrained the burglar as the mother phoned for help to the GNR.
Correio da Manhã newspaper broke the story this morning, saying the men got the burglar “from the back, with one of them having an arm around the man’s neck, in a chokehold”.
When GNR agents arrived at the villa – “at the entrance to Vilamoura” resort, the man was alive. But when they “prepared” to put him in handcuffs, he “collapsed and died”, said CM.
A number of people commenting on stories that have since appeared in the press suggest the man was in the custody of Portuguese police at the moment he died and therefore the British men involved in restraining him should not be liable for any prosecution. But it cannot be as simple as that. If the autopsy finds he was the victim of disproportionate force, charges could follow.
As for the circumstances of the break-in, it appears the family were asleep when they were disturbed by noises made by the burglar, who was found to have a number of the possessions already in his pockets, including the keys to the owner’s Jaguar.
It is understood the family were “long-term” residents in Portugal.
Burglar dies in Vilamoura following “chokehold” from British father and son
A British family in Vilamoura has been thrust into the media spotlight this morning after foiling a robbery in which the thief died.
With details still sketchy, national tabloid Correio da Manhã explains the British family – parents in their 50s with one son in his 20s – found the thief in their home, located near the entrance to the resort, at 4am.
The man is described as having had a number of the family’s possessions in his pockets, including the key to their Jaguar car.
While the wife is reported to have phoned for police, the father and son “managed to immobilise the thief”, who was alive when the GNR arrived.
But at the point where agents “prepared” to put the man into handcuffs, he “collapsed and died”, writes the paper – stressing that one of the British men had been “securing him from the back, with an arm around the man’s neck in a chokehold”.
As the Resident attempts to get more information from police, the body of the thief is to be autopsied to determine cause of death.
It is not known at this point whether any of the British people involved will face any form of prosecution or further inquiry.
We are also unable to give details, for now, on the identities of the British people involved.