Portugal: British man in custody after fatal stabbing of compatriot near remote commune

Aerial view of Cabril dam reservoir in Pedrogao Grande district  (REUTERS)
Aerial view of Cabril dam reservoir in Pedrogao Grande district (REUTERS)

A 27-year-old British man has been remanded in custody after being arrested following the fatal stabbing of a compatriot near a remote commune in Portugal.

Engineer Josh Menkens was told he was being sent to prison pending an ongoing investigation after a second day of questioning at a court in Leiria, an hour’s drive south-west of the woodland spot where a 35-year-old British man’s body was found on Sunday.

It subsequently emerged Mr Menkens, who has not been officially named by police, was one of the organisers of a music festival called the Mad Hatters Tea Party which had been taking place at the commune near the woodland where the stabbing occurred.

The “off grid” living community in Figueiro dos Vinhos near the central Portuguese town of Pedregao Grande, called Libelinha Venture, is owned by UK public school-educated Xavier Hancock and his Spanish partner Arantxa Atauri.

There is no suggestion the couple were in any way involved in the stabbing in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Mr Hancock, who attended the £15,000-a-year St Edwards School in Oxford, said earlier this week: “As this is an active investigation, I will only answer questions from the authorities who we are cooperating with fully.

“Once the official evidence has been released, I would consider sharing the story.”

The court hearing to decide whether Mr Menkens should be remanded in custody or released on bail took place behind closed doors, as is normal in Portugal where only trials are held in public.

It was not immediately clear if had cooperated fully with the ongoing investigation by answering questions from the judge and state prosecutor in the courtroom as well as his defence lawyer.

A promo for the Mad Hatters Tea Party, which started on September 20 and was due to run until September 24, described it as a “gathering filled with great music and fantastic souls” and urged those planning to attend: “Show love, kindness, and respect to ourselves, each other, and the land.

“Listen to your body’s limits and take care of your physical and mental well-being.

“Watch out for one another, speak up if something feels off, and maintain a ZERO TOLERANCE policy towards bias, prejudice, abuse, or assault.”

In addition to a line-up which included several DJs, the event also featured circus performers, wellness workshops and a “Hatters Secret Quest”.

Tickets cost 50 euros (£43) and included four nights of camping on site, although guests were given the offer of upgrade “glamping” options costing up to £120.

The alarm was raised around 6.30am on Sunday and the detainee reportedly admitted stabbing his alleged victim before taking police to the remote woodland spot where his body was.

The knife investigators believe was used to kill him was found alongside the corpse, left in a small clearing in woodland close to the village of Figueiro dos Vinhos.

Footage published locally showed police lifting the dead man’s body on a stretcher after it was covered with a sheet and putting it into the back of a nearby van.

A waiting Red Cross ambulance took it to the university city of Coimbra after officers reached the nearest tarmacked road.

A post-mortem is thought to have taken place on Monday in Coimbra, although the results have not been made public.