We are currently trialling our new-look independent.co.uk website - please send any feedback to beta@independent.co.uk


British fugitive caught hiding naked in secret panic room at his luxury Spanish villa

After 13 years on the run, police finally tracked Mark Lilley down to the southern Spanish city of Malaga

A convicted drug smuggler on the run for 13 years has been caught hiding naked in a secret panic room at his luxury Spanish villa.

Mark Lilley, 41, had been alerted by the sound of his guard dogs barking and fled to his hiding place concealed behind a wardrobe in his bedroom and watched the raid by 40 armed officers play out using a computer linked to CCTV cameras.

Footage of the operation showed officers climbing over a gate before using battering rams to smash down the door of his villa in Malaga, southern Spain, during the dawn raid. Officers also found a handgun at the site during Saturday’s raid.

Lilley, who avoided a 23-year jail term for a large-scale drugs operation after skipping bail during his trial in 2000, gave himself up after his hiding place was found, even though officers could not get inside.

Lilley, from Warrington, Cheshire, was jailed in his absence in 2000 after one of his gang members turned supergrass and gave evidence against him in return for a shorter sentence.

He had a major drug dealing racket based in the northwest of England and used extreme violence against his rivals. A gun he owned was used three times in Manchester, his trial heard.

Despite his flight, he appealed against the length of his sentence giving his barrister instructions by phone from his hideaway but lost his case in 2002. He was one of 65 fugitives named by the Serious Organised Crime Agency in 2006 who were thought to have been hiding in Spain. Lilley was the 51 to be caught.

Dave Allen, head of the Fugitives Unit at Soca, said: "Lilley was a dangerous man with access to firearms. He had evaded capture for a long time by moving around Spain and using false identities. Now he's behind bars where he belongs and extradition proceedings are under way.”