British family found shot dead at rented villa on Spain's Costa del Sol

Police suspect the man shot dead his chronically sick wife and disabled 20-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself

A British couple and their daughter have been found shot dead at their home on the Costa del Sol.

Police investigating the deaths suspect the man shot dead his chronically sick wife and disabled 20-year-old daughter before turning the gun on himself.

All three bodies were said to have gunshot wounds and were found in their rented villa in Mijas, Fuengirola, where they are believed to have lain undiscovered for several days.

Neighbours said debt collectors had visited the property recently and named the father as Philip Wood and his daughter as Sophie. They also reported hearing shots several days ago.

A Guardia Civil spokeswoman confirmed that the family were British and said: “The latest information we have is that the owner of the house had not heard from the family for a few days and had not been paid.

”He went to the house today and when there was no reply at the door, he went inside. Inside he saw the man dead on the sofa and immediately called the Guardia Civil.

“When officers inspected the house they found the wife and the daughter dead in a bedroom. The initial hypothesis at this early stage of the investigation is that this was a murder-suicide.”

There were unconfirmed reports that the daughter had Down's Syndrome.

One unnamed friend of the family was reported as saying of Mr Wood: “He had a lot of problems on his back. His daughter was grown-up but her mind was that of a baby's and his wife had been ill for some time.”

A neighbour, neighbour Elizabeth Van Heyningen, 66, believed Mr Wood had worked in a Spanish bank, then as an estate agent before losing his job. “I think they had run out of money,” she was quoted as saying. “He used to drive a BMW and his wife had a nice car of her own but then they sold them for a hired Opel they used to drive.”

The UK's Foreign and Commonwealth Office said it was looking into the reports and getting in touch with Spanish authorities.

A Spanish Interior Ministry spokesman said the family had been living in Mijas for a long time. It is a popular town with a reputation for being family-friendly with its many cafes and restaurants, plenty of them catering for British ex-pats and tourists.

Its centre is a typical Andalusian white-washed village, and the Britons' apartment is on a pretty mountainside. The town has three distinct neighbourhoods - the village high in the mountain, a more modern development and an eight mile stretch of sea punctuated by pretty villages.

The region has largely shaken off its reputation as a haven for wanted British crooks that led to it being dubbed the Costal del Crime, but there are still occasional reminders of how popular it was with criminals before an extradiction treaty was introduced.

In 2010, Daniel Smith, 26, from Essex,  was killed by a gunman on a motorcycle who shot him three times in the face as he drank in the Lounge Bar in Mijas. Smith was wanted by the authorities for an attempted gangland murder and it is believed he was the victim of a contract killing.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas