Holidaymakers have told of their “harrowing” experience where they were assaulted by two men in an alleged child abduction attempt.
Two couples claim the incident took place in the early hours of 16 May at the hotel they were staying at in Antalya, Turkey.
Dubliners Elaine and Phil had been on holiday in Turkey with their two children, aged 10 and 11, for a week, and met English guests for a late night drink. One of the families, Sophie and Dean and their three children had met the family the night before.
Speaking on the Irish Radio RTE Liveline, the couples recounted the horrifying event.
How did the events unfold?
Elaine explained that things took a turn when “two big, tall men literally came out of nowhere,” to the families who were at the outdoor bar.
“They got down into my face and shouted ‘shut the f*** up.’ I said ‘excuse me’ and they repeated ‘shut the f*** up.’ At that point I walked over to Phil because they were aggressive,” she said, but when Phil went over “everything changed.”
“The two men attacked Phil. It was absolutely horrendous, the children were screaming. They basically grabbed Phil in an arm each and tackled him to the ground. The other two guys I had been speaking to, Dean and Mike, tried to help Phil.
“In the midst of this I ran to grab my children, another man came out of nowhere and was trying to pick up one of the other children that was there [Sophie and Dean’s two-year-old].”
Elaine said there was so much panic, she doesn’t know how long they were outside for.
Elaine explained to the Irish radio that the two men chased them to the lobby and lift, and were beating the couple up, while her children were able to get out and run to the nearby toilet where they called the police using her phone.
What did Phil say?
Phil told Liveline that they kept having to try to get away from the two men and compared it to Liam Neeson in Taken.
He said: “It felt like hours. Eventually the police came in, and as soon as they came in, everyone’s demeanour changed.”
Phil was told to get out of the lift with his “face down and hands and arms spread.”
“The police never spoke to me,” Phil added, “Something was pressed into the back of my head.
“These two men [the attackers] stood there with six police officers, discussing what happened, looked over CCTV footage and then left with no arrests made…I don’t know who these men were but they knew the police.”
After some time Phil said he was able to run away from the police and hide in a hotel closet until he thought it was safe to come out. He returned to the family room and thankfully found Elaine and his children.
What happened to Sophie and Dean?
The British couple were spending the second night of their holiday with Elaine and Phil when the first events unfolded, and a third man placed a towel over their two-year-old Evie’s head and tried to abduct her.
Speaking to RTE1, the couple said their nightmare nearly ended thanks to the kindness of a pair of German tourists who pulled Evie aside into a nearby bush until the drama had died down.
However, the “burly men” made a second attempt according to the couple when Dean entered the lift with his daughter and Phil and Elaine, the Sun reports.
He said: “As the doors were about to close, the men saw us and ran over again and tried to pull me out while I was holding my two-year-old.
“They tried to get her again but obviously I was holding my own. When the doors were closing, he tried to grab her leg.”
Now with over 60,000 shares, Sophie shared the experience on Facebook describing it as the “worst night of our life - one more minute he had Evie, we wouldn’t ever be able to hold her again.”
What have the authorities done?
The alleged incident has been relayed to the British embassy by Sophie and Dean, and is being investigated by police.
Despite Elaine and Phil reporting to the Irish embassy in Turkey, they were told the incident had not been reported at the hotel. It is under investigation by forces in Ireland.