Murdered couple 'were held prisoner for two weeks'

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The bodies of a British couple missing in Spain were discovered in the basement of a house where they may have been held prisoner for up to two weeks.</p>Police in Valencia said yesterday that Anthony and Linda O'Malley were found buried in the basement of a house in Alcoy, an industrial town 12 miles inland from Benidorm.</p>Police searched the house on Tuesday after arresting four people who were in a car that the couple had hired before they went missing in September. The car, which had been fitted with false number plates, was stopped in a routine check by police. Two of the people arrested were Venezuelan men, the others were women.</p>One theory being investigated is that the couple, who had been seeking to buy a holiday home on the Costa Blanca, were lured to a country villa and forced to hand over cash. They were possibly kept there for as long as two weeks before being killed. Police believe they were shot.</p>Juan Cortina, the police commissioner, said the couple had been formally identified. He added: "It was the kind of place they had been looking for and we believe they visited two or three times and on their last visit they were kidnapped."</p>The murder inquiry would now be passed to three investigating judges and was expected to take several months, he said. Spanish police are working with officers in north Wales and the National Crime Squad.</p>Mr O'Malley, 42, a self- employed car salesman, and his wife, 55, a store manager, came from Llangollen. After their disappearance, large amounts of cash were taken from their bank accounts using credit cards, which were also used for expensive purchases.</p>Danny Collins, news editor of the Costa Blanca News, said the Venezuelans might have been trying to con the O'Malleys by acting as bogus estate agents.</p>He said: "There are low-lifes here who hang around bars and target people who want to buy property. There is a scam where the idea is to show people around a property that you don't actually own, get a cash deposit and then scarper. It may have been that Mr O'Malley refused to fall for this and things may have turned nasty when he refused to hand over the cash." </p>