A British expat was forced to destroy his dream home in Spain after being told that the mayor’s building permit was illegal.
Gurney Davey, 67, has been told to demolish the £ 130,000 home two months after his wife Diana, 71, died of cancer or face jail time.
The shocked pensioner, who lived on the property for 17 years and built it with his late wife, now lives in a van on the site after having no other choice but to instruct demolition workers to begin the demolition.
Work began on Friday and has cost Gurney 1,600 euros so far.
“I was desperate at first, my blood pressure was sky high and then I lost my wife,” he told the Olive Press this week.
He added that the demolition actually came as “some kind of relief” during the litigation that began in 2004.
The Manzanares law firm had told Gurney and Diana that they had a license to “Almacen” – storage space in English – that would enable them to build their dream bungalow in Tolox, Andalusia, Spain.
But the Suffolk couple, who were originally from Suffolk, were later told that their property was one of 350 homes illegally granted building permits by former corrupt mayor Juan Vera, who ended up in jail.
Gurney was told he had six months to demolish his home or face a prison sentence – news that came shortly after his wife’s death.
“We thought we did everything right. We got legal advice and hired a lawyer to get the building permit for the house, ”he explained.
“Diana battled breast cancer for six years before she had colon cancer – I’m sure the stress led to it.
“But luckily it’s over now. It’s been going on for so long now, I’ve finally come to terms with what to do.
“The demolition was actually a relief.”
The former homeowner now lives in a converted van that he keeps on the property and shares with his five dogs.
“This country is my home, it is my life and these dogs are all I have left,” he said.
Whether or not Gurney is still facing jail time has yet to be confirmed.
He was not told about the legal proceedings that followed charges by the Guardia Civil of “illegal construction” and the court said the two-bed house should never have been built.
Gurney did not find out about the possible six-month prison term until a court document was served on a neighbor.
“I took it straight to Tolox City Hall. They told me I shouldn’t have received it yet,” he recalled.
“They said they would send me the notification as soon as they stamped it.”
It’s not the first time British expats have demolished their homes in Andalusia, with the priors in Almeria being the most famous victims.
They still live in their home’s garage today, over a decade since their home was demolished.