Plumber ‘knifed fellow Brit with exceptional violence & desecrated body’ in ‘Mad Hatter's Tea Party’ commune murder | The Sun

A BRITISH plumber allegedly knifed a fellow festival goer to death before "desecrating his body" in a remote Portuguese commune.

Josh Menkens, 27, is accused of attacking a fellow Brit, 37, with "exceptional violence" before using tree branches and pieces of clothing to hide his body in woodland.

Menkens, from Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire, was arrested on Sunday and remanded in prison on Wednesday after being questioned over two days about the alleged murder.

Detectives had remained silent about the investigation they launched early on Sunday morning after other Brit revellers he “confessed to” alerted them.

But in an extraordinary statement, cops claimed Menkens repeatedly stabbed the alleged victim in woodland near the off-grid commune where he had helped stage a four-day festival called the Mad Hatter's Tea Party.

Initial reports said the group were playing the notorious Blue Whale suicide game when the Brit was killed – but this was ruled out by investigators.

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The alarm was raised early on Sunday after a group of British nationals went to a police station operated by Portugal’s GNR force in Figueiro dos Vinhos.

Cops allege Menkens, armed with a knife went into an isolated part of the forest with another Brit before "attacking him with exceptional violence, stabbing him in several parts of the body".

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

The Policia Judiciaria added: "The victim, a 37-year-old foreign man, had travelled to Portugal to participate in the event and apparently did not know the defendant personally.

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"It has not yet been possible to determine the motive for the crimes, but any relationship with games or online challenges has initially been ruled out.

"The 27-year-old detainee was present during his first judicial interrogation which resulted in his preventive detention.”

The off grid living community where the Mad Hatters Tea Party took place 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 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.

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”.

It urged those planning to attend to "show love, kindness, and respect to ourselves, each other, and the land."

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.


Sources close to the initial police investigation insisted early on they had found no evidence there was a Blue Whale link to the death despite early reports in Portuguese press of one.

The online suicide challenge has been linked to numerous deaths around the world and consists of initially innocuous tasks before introducing elements of self-harm.

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

An acquaintance of the suspect, who describes himself online as an entrepreneur and spent time in Australia after studying at a specialist environmental college in north London, spoke yesterday of his shock at Menken's arrest.

The acquaintance, who runs an eco-retreat the Brit stayed at to “de-stress” from his hectic job in the UK, said: “He was here for a week and we developed a superficial work relationship afterwards in which we were trying to get each other small freelance contracts.

“We knew he was from the UK and had a really really busy life and was working 50 to 60 hours a week and he needed to relax and de-stress.

“Eight out of ten clients we have are people who come from the city and need to unplug for a little while and de-stress from their jobs so there was nothing odd about Josh coming on his own.

“He was already talking then about the event in Portugal he wanted to set up which ended up being the Mad Hatters Tea Party.

“I hardly talked to him after he stayed but he sent me some of the promotional stuff for the Mad Hatters Tea Party because I suppose he thought we might show up as we live in Portugal.

“But that was the extent of my contact with him."

Meanwhile Josh’s father Troy said he got a call "out the blue" shortly before midnight on Sunday.

He told the Mail: "My son was talking at a million miles an hour, in a head-melt, firing stuff at me.

"I was trying to be as calm as I could and find out where he was being held and how I could get there."

The Australian-born businessman added: "When I got the call, I thought 'what the hell' and pulled myself together and asked 'where are you', what police station? So I booked on a flight and got a taxi there the next morning.



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"I didn't know much about the festival, I knew he was coming over for some kind of festival, but didn't know any details about it.

"I wasn't concerned, because he's never given me any reason for concern."

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