Shooting victim tells of ordeal

By Danielle NuttallA BUSINESSMAN from Suffolk who almost died after he was shot by burglars during a raid at his luxury Spanish villa revealed last night he was quitting his dream home for good.

By Danielle Nuttall

A BUSINESSMAN from Suffolk who almost died after he was shot by burglars during a raid at his luxury Spanish villa revealed last night he was quitting his dream home for good.

Brian Cowan said he no longer felt safe at the luxury property, in the Alhaurin el Grande region of the Costa del Sol, and was selling up so he could move back to Suffolk permanently.

The former haulage boss, who lived in Felixstowe before moving to the resort, flew back to the UK a few days ago and is now receiving round-the-clock medical care at Basildon Hospital.

Speaking from his hospital bedside for the first time since his terrifying ordeal, the 61-year-old said: "I'm selling up in Spain and stopping here.

"I don't feel safe anymore. It was a lovely village to live in, I enjoyed every minute I was out there.

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"But we never dreamed anything like this could happen. You could picture it on the coast or something like that, but it was a very nice area. It's definitely put me off living there."

Mr Cowan, who ran a property business in Spain, was shot three times at point blank range when he and his wife Linda, 56, were confronted by a gang of four men in their Spanish home last month.

Doctors performed a series of life-saving operations to remove the bullets lodged in his abdomen and to treat his injuries.

For three weeks, Mr Cowan remained unconscious in a critical condition in the intensive care unit at Malaga Hospital. He is now making a slow, but remarkable recovery.

Last night he described the horrifying moment the couple were woken by the burglars in the bedroom of their villa.

"When you have four geezers in your bedroom shining a torch in your face and Linda is hysterical, what do you do? You don't have time to think. The guns looked real. I thought to myself 'What do I do?'," he recalled.

"I clocked one of them on the chin. That's when the bullets started to fly. There were three shots and I had three bullets in me. My wife was with me and she went hysterical and was screaming at the top of her voice."

Mr Cowan revealed how, in excruciating pain, he had managed to dial for his own ambulance, while his wife rushed across the road to a friend for help.

"I said I'd been shot and I needed an ambulance. They couldn't speak English, but they managed to get hold of someone who spoke English and, unbeknown to me, I was phoning Madrid. They wanted my address and everything to the letter. It was taking what seemed like hours," he said.

"I was still conscious. Eventually a guy called Alex saw blue lights flying down the road and went to get them. They came in and there was police and ambulance drivers everywhere.

"They took me to Malaga Hospital and I was still conscious – but the pain was too much. I had two bullets in my stomach and it felt like it was burning up. I have never had pain like that in my life before.

"They put me on a bed type of thing and cut my shorts off and there was blood everywhere. Then at 4.30am they gave me an injection and that was me knocked out. I was on the operating table for 7.5 hours. I couldn't remember anything for three weeks after that."

Police in Malaga have since arrested a gang of eastern European men suspected of carrying out a wave of similar burglaries on the Costa del Sol.

Four men and one woman, of Kosovan Albanian origin, have been charged with burgling 14 homes at different times while the owners were at home.

Police inquiries are continuing to see whether there is a link between the gang and the brutal robbery at Mr Cowan's home.

Mr Cowan is now on dialysis due to the injury to one of his kidneys and admitted he was still in pain.

But the businessman said it was the frustration of permanently lying in a hospital bed that had caused him the most stress.

"I've never been in a hospital bed in my life. I have visited, that's about as far as it goes," said Mr Cowan.

"I cannot get out of bed because I have been horizontal for so long. I tried it this morning, dangling my legs over the bed and sitting like that for 10 to 15 minutes and trying to move half-a-metre to step on to a chair, but my legs give way.

"I've no idea when I'll be out of hospital. The kidney isn't working properly. I don't think the left one knows what the right one does. I feel a bit better, but I've a long way to go. It's not a very fast recovery at the moment."

Mr Cowan owns a small 16th century cottage on the Suffolk coast and is considering spending some recovery time there once he was out of hospital before finding a permanent home in the UK. He is due to begin physiotherapy sessions next week.

danielle.nuttall@eadt.co.uk

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