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
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea