Brit expat refuses to give up on Costa dream after gang run riot in luxury block


Retired Linda Brown and her partner are the only Brits left at a retirement complex on the Costas after squatters turned it into “hell on earth” for residents.

A former police sergeant, Linda, 61, says she has been threatened with an axe and hit in the eye after the gang – who possess at least one gun – seized control of the luxury flats.

Expats who poured their savings into 11 homes have quit the once-smart block.

Linda told the Sunday People: “This gang want me to move out too so they can turn the complex into their kingdom. I won’t let them win. I’ll fight them off.”

Her ordeal began in 2014 when a man and 12 kids broke into the Mirador El Pedrera block in Denia, a beautiful Costa Blanca town 30 miles north of Benidorm.

Several flats were unsold because the recession had deterred buyers.

The travellers then claimed squatters’ rights and were followed by seven other clans, leaving a third of the complex illegally occupied.

The gang’s leader, one of 11 brothers, was nicknamed The Chief by terrified residents.

Linda said his lackeys swagger around with ferocious dogs, soil the communal pool and torched a flat.

A caretaker they allegedly beat up with baseball bats had to have an operation on both arms.

The £6 million Mirador apartment block in Denia has now become a no-go area

Linda is the last expat standing after other terrified homeowners in the complexes moved back to their homelands


Linda added: “These people hurl rubbish in corridors. They’ve stolen windows in some flats and stripped others. Light fittings have been torn out and half the block is in darkness, yet they guard their flats with a pitbull.

“This was once a beautiful complex but now it’s a no-go area.”

Linda bought the £250,000 penthouse in 2007 with partner Arlene Ashley, 72. She said: “We sank every penny into what we thought would be paradise. It was our dream – but out of the 11 properties bought at the time, we are the only ones left.”

Other owners, five Brits and the rest German, have moved back to their homelands till the situation is resolved.

To cap it all, each household is being billed £500 a month in service charges to cover a shortfall left by
the invaders – who pay nothing while trashing the place.

The owners must also cover all communal bills for the block, including a £20,000 debt incurred by squatters stealing electricity and water.

Her nightmare began when a man and 12 kids broke in to one of the flats in 2014

Three of the gang brothers brandishing a gun


Arlene said: “This is My Big Fat Gypsy Nightmare. We worked our whole lives for this and now it’s like being in a third world country. I’m sickened.”

Linda said: “On two occasions some of the women have run around the block with axes, threatening me.”

She also claimed two wives from the clans assaulted her after she asked for their karaoke machine, which was blaring out Spanish pop music, to be turned down.

“It was siesta time, 3pm, and they were all around the swimming pool,” she said. “One woman hit me in the stomach and another smacked me in the eye.” She took them to court and is awaiting a verdict.

Linda added that she sought talks with The Chief, real name Antonio, to calm the situation but in vain.

She said: “The others see him as royalty. He comes out with a cane, yelling that it’s his kingdom.”

Now she and Arlene, from Nottingham, are prisoners in their home. “We’re scared to leave in case the gang break in,” said Linda.

The pair, who claim to suffer daily threats and abuse, have barricaded themselves in their fourth-floor apartment and sleep with the burglar alarm on.

Linda said: “We’ve spent £1,200 on security – with cameras installed, a metal gate to keep them out and a £150-a-month bill for our own private lift.

“The squatters’ kids shout, ‘Kill Linda.’ They call me the devil and say the block is theirs now.”

She told of seeing “exorcisms” by the invaders, while The Chief “chanted with a preacher to rid his wife of demons”.

The squatters have trashed the complex and left it in squalor


Linda went on: “He saw me and said I needed to get the demons out of me so I’d let THEM live in peace.”

She said the louts have caused the whole town to suffer, explaining: “It used to be lively with expats but they don’t want to come here any more.”

Fellow Brit Moira Wakeman, 66, told how her retirement in Denia has been “wrecked by the family from hell”.

The former teacher said: “I moved here from London 16 years ago for peace and quiet but that has been ruined. We can’t even drink in our local bar.

“We haven’t seen Linda in eight months as we won’t step into the area. We won’t go to her and she can’t come to us.”

Expats Bill Smith, 72, and wife Judy, 71, who came to Denia from Kent, said: “We nearly moved into that block because the flats were so lovely – but thankfully didn’t. We had a lucky escape.”

Law-abiding families alleged one of the squatters has been pushing cannabis and cocaine, while another has been running a brothel.

The travellers’ reign of terror forced a nearby bar to close last November and when a local resident complained her flat was trashed.

Linda said: “We came here for a quiet life but this is hell on earth.

“Many of our good friends have been scared off and a German couple were called Nazis until finally they fled.

“We’ve tried the police but the Spaniards get tied up in red tape.”

One of the flats ablaze after one squatter torched it

Bill and Judy Smith say they have had a lucky escape after choosing not to move into the block


Four evictions are said to have been rubber-stamped but not one squatter has been ordered out. Under Spanish law, police are unable to force entry to a property if a developer owns the land.

Linda said: “We met the town’s mayor and head of security and both say they can’t help us because of the law.

“I’ve called the police at the time of break-ins – but these people changed the lock straight away and showed the key to officers, who then just had to leave.”

The town’s National Police spoke of their frustration, saying: “We have no power.

“We’ve arrested many people living at the flats, one for assault on the caretaker, and also drugs.

Squatters occupy more than 20 of the 65 flats but we need a court order to kick them out. Only the building’s owner can get that.”

A company called JEPSA is supposed to maintain the complex, managed by Jesus Fermosa.

Fellow Brit Moira Wakeman says her retirement in Denia has been ‘wrecked by the family from hell’


Linda said: “I threatened him with legal action for lack of security and it appears he has now started trying for court orders to get the squatters out.”

Denia court clerk Alfredo Major said: “These families are here all the time. They’ve been arrested for assault, drugs and a fire.

“Spain has a huge crisis with squatters. They break into holiday homes, so everyone is affected.”

Flats boss Mr Fermosa said last night: “I fear for my life with these people. I was attacked when I tried to cut off their electricity yesterday. They attempted to get in my car and chased me down the street.

“Spanish bureaucracy is very slow and the law is not on our side. Police don’t have the authority to kick them out. We are doing everything we can.”

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