Family death in Spain 'linked to child's disability'

Police say they are working on the theory that the deaths were a murder-suicide

An apparent murder-suicide involving a family of three in Spain may be linked to the daughter's disability, it is understood.

It is believed a note left at their home, where a man and a mother and her daughter were found dead, said the daughter's disability had become too much and had pushed them to the edge.

It is thought the note was written by the man, who is believed to be British, and has been named locally as Philip Wood.

The mother, Sheila, and daughter, Sophie, have been confirmed as Irish.

Officials have so far been unable to confirm where in Ireland Mrs Wood comes from.

Police said they are working on the theory that the deaths, at a property on the Costa Del Sol, were a murder-suicide.

It is thought the three died from gunshot wounds inflicted by one of the adults.

The trio were found inside the apartment in Mijas, Fuengirola, yesterday by their landlord.

The man and woman, a couple in their 50s, and their daughter, in her late 20s, were understood to have been living in the area for more than 15 years.

The Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin confirmed the woman and their daughter were Irish passport holders.

Officials are attempting to contact their next of kin.

The Foreign Office in London said it was “liaising closely” with the local police and was ready to provide consular assistance.

Last night, a Guardia Civil spokeswoman said the family were renting the property where they were found dead.

“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,” she said.

“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.”

The spokeswoman said she could not confirm reports that the daughter had Down's Syndrome.

Mijas is a popular town with a reputation for being family friendly with its many cafes and restaurants.

Its centre is a typical Andalusian white-washed village, and the crime-scene 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.

A Foreign Office spokesman said: “We are aware of the tragic incident involving the death of three family members in Spain.

“We are liaising closely with the local police and stand ready to provide consular assistance."