A few days on and I have found the problem. I had removed the battery because it was old and not only it didn't hold charge but was so bad that it started causing instability, presumably due to voltage drop resulting from excessive power drain. But I digress ...
I put the old battery back into the laptop and voila! It works.
It appears that the empty battery compartment caused the installer for Linux Mint 13 to crash. I have now installed Mint 13(32bit) MATE from a USB stick as dual boot to the existing Windows XP, no problems with the old battery in place.
Whether this solves Carlos_BG's problem I can't say. Is his laptop's battery installed?
PS: this Laptop won't run Mint 16 Petra due to the CPU, so presumably it also won't support the next LTS version of MInt i.e. Mint 17, so it looks like it'll be Mint 13 until the laptop finally dies. Pity.
Acer Travelmate 2300 with Intel Celeron M 340 CPU with 1.5GB RAM
Integrated Intel 82852/855GM Integrated Graphics Device
PS. The laptop runs on Mint 13 MATE without the battery after installation i.e. battery is only needed for the installation.