A HAUNTED painting that terrified a woman for years after she found it abandoned in Brighton could be a portrait of the "Voodoo Queen".

Facebook users have been quick to warn the painting, found dumped by the side of a commercial property, could be that of Marie Laveau.

The dedicated practitioner of voodoo was renowned in New Orleans in the 1800s for her power and magical abilities.

The woman of "astounding beauty", looks very similar to the woman portrayed in the painting found by Mel Hamilton.

Mel decided to save it from being thrown away with the rubbish and took it home, a decision she now regrets.

She said that within days of reframing and hanging it, "paranormal activity" started.

The Argus: The painting found in BrightonThe painting found in Brighton

"Dark and unexplainable" paranormal activity happened frequently in the flat.

The TV would change channels by itself and doors would open and slam shut.

On one occasion, Mel was awoken by the sound of keys opening her door.

Facebook user Billy Vortex in the Paranormal Hauntings group said: "They're right that's madam Laveau.

"If it is possessed it's by a demonic spirit. Burning it does work but you have to fill the "spiritual space with something else".

"Don't face the mirror with the painting or another mirror or TV screen as they will open an even stronger portal for things to actually come through."

The Argus: Marie Catherine Laveau, the 'Voodoo Queen'Marie Catherine Laveau, the 'Voodoo Queen'

Facebook user Jessica Winstead said: "The painting itself reminds me of Marie Laveau."

Mel claimed that once the painting was in her flat, it was as if a dark entity had attached itself to her with the intent of ruining her life... something not uncommon to researchers.

Paranormal investigators believe dark energy, or spirits, prey on people when they are at their most vulnerable.

At the time, Mel, who lives in Ramsgate, Kent, was battling an alcohol addiction that she believes was propelled by the spirit in the flat.

She tried to tell people what was happening but they dismissed her as "drunk".

She said: "Things got really really unbearable. There was so much activity that I didn't want to live there.

"The energy in it was just so bad and so dark. I was a nervous wreck and covered in crosses. I went to a meeting and tried to sound rational but nobody believed me."

Three years after she discovered the portrait, she had enough, convinced it was a source of the dark energy in her life.

She got her son to throw it out and almost immediately after it was removed, the activity stopped.