A couple have told of their “harrowing” experience at a hotel in Turkey where they claim they were assaulted by two men who attempted to abduct their children.
The incident allegedly happened in the early hours of May 16, when Dubliners Elaine and Phil had a night of socialising descend into “pure and utter panic”.
The couple were on a family holiday with their two children, aged 10 and 11, Elaine said.
The family had been in Turkey for a week before the incident occurred, Dublin Live reports.
Speaking on RTE’s Liveline, Elaine said the family were having a lovely time had spent the day outside of the hotel.
When they returned, they went to the outdoor bar for a late night drink and they met two English couples, one of whom they had been socialising with the night before.
Elaine said she was talking to the two dads from the couples while her husband Phil chatted to the two mums.
However, things suddenly took a turn when “two men came literally out of nowhere”.
Elaine explained: “Big, tall men, well over six foot. They got down into my face and shouted ‘shut the f**k up’.
“I said ‘excuse me?’ and they repeated ‘shut the f**k up’. At that point I walked over to Phil because they were aggressive.”
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Elaine said that her husband Phil went over to the men to ask if there was a problem and in that moment “everything changed”.
She said: “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 who I had been speaking to, Dean and Mike, were trying 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. He threw a towel over her head and ran.
“Phil was screaming at the top of his voice to get the kids back to the hotel. It was pure and utter panic.”
Elaine said there was “so much panic” that she doesn’t know how long they were outside for.
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Her husband Phil managed to break free from the men and the family ran towards the lobby, but had to go through a turnstile.
“One of the men grabbed Phil and tried to drag him back out through the turnstile. We got into lobby and ran straight to the lift,” she said.
Two men followed the family into the lift and were “beating the c**p” out of Elaine and Phil while trying to drag them out.
“Phil was clutched onto the poles on either side of the lift. He was gripped on and wouldn’t let go,” Elaine said.
“One of my children, I don’t know how, she kicked one the men and ran out of the lift and grabbed her brother.
“The two of them ran to the toilet which was beside the lift. My son had my phone and they dialled police.”
Elaine also managed to escape the lift but Phil was “sure they were behind him”.
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He said on Liveline: “This went on, it felt like hours. Eventually the police came in.
“As soon as they came in, everyone’s demeanour changed.” Phil was told to get out of the lift “face down and hands and arms spread”.
“The police never spoke to me. Something was pressed into the back of my head,” he said.
“These two men (who had attacked Phil) stood there with six police officers, discussing what had 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.”
Phil said that after some time he was able to run from the police and he hid in a closet in the hotel for over an hour until he felt it was safe to come out.
He then ran to the family room where he thankfully found Elaine and his children.
Elaine said that at the time she did not know why the men targeted them, but now she believes it was to “create a distraction so they could try to abduct one of the children”.
She added: “It was the most harrowing experience we have ever had”.
Dean, one of the parents that Elaine and Phil were socialising with, is the father of the two-year-old girl who was allegedly almost abducted.
Speaking on Liveline, Dean said while the two men initially attacked Phil, he heard screams from behind and saw a third man “go over to my two-year-old daughter who was sat on a chair and put a towel over her and pick her up”.
“I managed to get away a bit and I heard the Turkish men shouting and they started running after me,” he said.
“I turned away and ran and hid around the corner. I then saw my eight-year-old son walk past crying his eyes out. So I grabbed him.”
Dean said that two German girls at the scene managed to grab his daughter, Evie back off the man and hid with her and Dean’s second son, aged five, in a bush.
He added: “I had never met them before. They told me that they saw it all happen and that someone had tried to take my daughter so they took it on their own and got my children and hid them in a bush.”
Dean took his children and went to go back up to the room, as he thought it would be the safest place.
He then saw Elaine, Phil and their two children struggling with two of the men in the lift and went over to try to get them out.
Dean said: “The Turkish man got aggressive, hit me with his right hand. I backed off and ran back outside with my family to the lobby and we stood there with the German girls who told us everything that was happening.”
After some time passed, Dean and his family tried again to go the room and ran towards the lift, which was now empty.
He said: “As the doors were about to close, the Turkish men saw us and ran over again and tried to pull me out of the lift while I was holding my two-year-old.
“They tried to get her again. I was holding my own and staying in that lift.
“They managed to get off us and then as the doors closed, he again put his hands in and grabbed my daughter’s legs and tried to snatch her out of my arms as the doors were closing.
“We got him out, the doors closed and we went up to the room.”
Phil said the incident was “like something out of Taken.” He said: “It was like a made-up fantasy book or movie. It was reality.”
When contacted for comment, the hotel in question denied that the incident took place.
Turkish police have also been contacted for comment about the alleged incident.
A Garda spokesman said: “Gardaí received a report in relation to an assault that occurred outside the jurisdiction on May 15, 2022.
“This matter has now been forwarded to An Garda Síochána Interpol section for onward transmission to the relevant authorities.”