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British couple shot dead 'in each other's arms' in Spain named as former Olympic diver and wife (77)

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Jean Tarsey (Photo: Facebook)

Jean Tarsey (Photo: Facebook)

Jean and Peter Tarsey

Jean and Peter Tarsey

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Jean Tarsey (Photo: Facebook)

A former British diver who competed for Great Britain at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne has been found shot dead along with his wife at their villa in Spain.

Peter Tarsey, 77, who also competed in two Commonwealth Games winning a bronze in 1958, was found dead alongside his 77-year-old wife Jean at their home in Xalo near Benidorm on the Costa Blanca.

The couple, who had been living in the region for the last 18 years, were discovered by friends, who had become concerned that they had not been seen for several days.

It is understood Mr and Mrs Tarsey, who have two grown up sons, were laid beside one another on the sofa.

A spokesman for the Guardia Civil, Spain's national police force, said they appeared to have been shot with a small calibre weapon, but there was no sign of a break in.

Spanish police said the deaths were being treated as homicide, but post mortem examinations were yet to be carried out.

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Jean and Peter Tarsey

Jean and Peter Tarsey

Jean and Peter Tarsey

A spokesman for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said: "We can confirm the death of two British nationals in Alicante, Spain. We stand ready to provide consular assistance."

The Guardia Civil spokesman said: "A retired British couple both aged 77 were found dead in their home at 4.15pm on Sunday. They were found by friends who had not heard from them for several days.

“Police were alerted and arrived at the property and found the front door open and the couple dead in each others’ arms on the sofa. They died from gunshot wounds and several bullet casings were found on the floor.

"An autopsy will confirm the causes of death and we are still investigating the motive."

Detectives are investigating whether the couple were killed in a bungled robbery.

A television was missing from the house. The couple had a safe in their home containing valuables, which was still locked when officers arrived.

The couple were found dead in their home in Xalo, a small town 50 miles north east of Alicante, on Spain's south east coast, where they had lived for around 18 years.

The British friend who found the couple's bodies said she was still in a state of shock.

The woman, a local estate agent who asked not to be named, said: “The Tarseys were my closest friends and it was me who found the bodies.

“I’m too upset to speak about it at the moment as I am still in a state of shock. I still can’t really believe it.”

The friend said the couple have two grown-up sons, Alexei and Sascha, one of whom is flying back from the Caribbean after being informed of the tragedy.

Mr Tarsely, who always used his middle name of David, and his wife, put their three bedroom, three bathroom country house up for sale in February last year for 230,000 euros and was still on the market when the tragedy happened.

The house, on the edge of Xalo, is set in an acre of grounds and has a large private swimming pool and mountain views.

But the couple had been burgled twice at the property.

A friend said they had been trying to sell the property in order to move to Majorca to be closer to one of their sons who lives there.

Susan Keightley, 72, originally from York, had known the couple since they bought the house in 1990, was a close neighbour and friend of the couple.

She said: “Everyone here is absolutely devastated. Jean and David were such a lovely couple and it’s just so terrible to think they were shot in their own home.

“Jean did a lot of work for local charities, including one looking after abandoned dogs. She also did a lot of Reiki healing for her friends in the area.

“David was a bit of a workaholic who couldn’t sit still, so he was always working in the garden.

“He had been an Olympic diver, and a few years ago we used to dive into their swimming pool from the garden wall.

"He was an engineer back in the UK and had sold his business when they moved to Spain.

“They have a little black and white mongrel dog called Domino who I believe was still in the house when the bodies were found.

“They had been burgled a couple of times, once at Christmas about ten years ago and also before that one summer.

“During the Christmas burglary David was asleep in a chair in the front room and didn’t even wake up. He woke up to find they had stolen the jewellery.

“But it was a long time ago and not something they were particularly worried about recently.

“They put the house up for sale because they were hoping to move to Majorca to be nearer their son Sascha and their grandchildren.

“I hope the police catch whoever did it and throw away the key”.

Susan added: "We found out on Sunday evening when the Civil Guard turned up. I never heard the gunshots."

Telegraph.co.uk