Ex-SAS soldier among suspects arrested over dramatic hold-up of British family at French chateau

A former SAS soldier was one of several suspects arrested over the hold-up of a British-German family in their  French chateau more than a year ago.

French police arrested six people this week in different locations in connection with the hold-up in November last year at the Château de La Durantie near the village of Lanouaille, southwest France.

Police found cannabis plants and resin and ecstasy pills when they made the arrests in the Dordogne region and in the town of Cognac in the neighbouring Charentes department.

The 57-year-old Briton arrested, whose name has not been made public, is suspected of having taken part in the robbery at the chateau.

The masked robbers spoke English and addressed the owners by name, police said, when they burst into the residence one evening at 10.15pm while the family were entertaining guests at dinner and their children were sleeping upstairs.

They threatened to kill the owners and stole several thousand euros in cash from an underground safe, as well as a watch, before escaping.

The owners are Victoria Heinig and Ralph, her husband, who bought the historic but rundown chateau for €1.6 million (£1.4 million) 10 years ago so that Victoria could extend her British-based catering business.

Chateau La DurantieCredit:
Chateau La Durantie /Facebook

Mr Heinig praised the "fantastic" work by the police in arresting the suspects and said it was a relief to know they had been detained. 

He told the Telegraph he was surprised to learn that a British soldier was among the suspects arrested but believed it could explain why one of the robbers appeared very professional and calm.

He said he suspected that someone who had previously worked at the property as a supplier may have given information to the people behind the robbery, but did not know exactly who. 

He said the family had increased security at the chateau since the robbery.

The Château de La Durantie, which was built in 1830, is now rented out for marriages and receptions.

The couple were featured in a Daily Telegraph article in 2008 in which they spoke of their lengthy and costly restoration of the property that was built by Field Marshal Bugeaud, who was France’s first Governor-General of Algeria.

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