Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Belfast couple deny being drunk on Portugal trip as police take tot into care

A Belfast couple have vehemently denied that they were drunk in charge of their 14-month-old daughter after she was taken into care by police while they holidayed in Portugal.

James Moreland and Lee-Ann O'Donoghue also denied that their daughter was hurt in any way, and rubbished claims they threw the little girl into the pool at a holiday resort in Albufeira.

The couple, who were reunited with their daughter on Tuesday – two nights after she was taken from them – told the Daily Mail police explained to them that their approach was due to the "Madeleine McCann effect". The British girl is still missing after being abducted while on a family holiday in Praia da Luz in 2007.

It is understood the couple and their daughter –who they requested should not be named– are now back at home.

Their week-long vacation at the Hotel Paraiso in Albufeira took a shocking turn when other holidaymakers reportedly raised concerns about their care of their little girl amid allegations of them being drunk at the poolside.

It was also alleged that the mother was drunkenly swaying with the child in her arms on an apartment balcony.

Armed police were called to the complex around 6.30pm last Sunday and both parents were handcuffed by police while their child was placed in emergency care and taken to Faro Central Hospital.

Mr Moreland alleged that he was beaten by police during the incident, and somehow had £500 spending money taken from him in the process.

Ms O'Donoghue (34) described the allegations against the couple as "ludicrous, downright lies".

"You can see from my daughter's legs there are no bruises.

"I did not drop her, I have never dropped her and I was not drunk," she said.

"She is my first and only baby and I adore her. I am such a protective mother. I just can't believe the lies I am hearing."

However, she did admit to having three cocktails with friends at the pool in the teatime drama, but insisted she "was merry, not drunk by any stretch".

Mr Moreland said: "To say I threw my daughter in the pool is just ridiculous."

However, Mr Moreland did admit to swearing and getting angry with police at the station.

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