more than 20 years since a young Englishman hopped off his mountain bike outside a villa in Llanos de Naguelos, near Marbella, went round to the swimming pool and shot dead the great train robber, Charlie Wilson. The murder represented the Costa del Crime writ large and was a reminder that thousands of British criminals had made Spain their home and given the coastal area the reputation of being "the bit of Europe that fell off the back of a lorry." It was the collapse of the extradition agreement between Spain and the United Kingdom in 1978 that first encouraged villains on the run to settle there and although that has long since changed, Spain remains an unwilling haven to thousands of Britons on the run.
The scope of British criminality in Spain has been well illustrated over the past month. Last week, (MAR 22) three Britons were arrested in Benidorm for allegedly importing three kilos of mephedrone from India. Two other Britons in Spain have just launched an appeal against their conviction for killing an ex-pat playboy criminal, Colin Nobes, whose body was dumped, wrapped in a tarpaulin, under a flyover in the province of Alicante in 2006.