My son vanished on Costa del Sol two years ago -kidnappers demanded £100K and now I've been left to investigate alone

"IF you want to see your dad and brother alive again, come to Tangier with £100K – you have 24 hours."

That was the chilling message kidnappers sent to the petrified family of Liam and Danny Poole, who vanished on the Costa del Sol along with a suitcase full of cash.

The father and son disappeared in April 2019 after flying to the Spanish coast with £20,000 in their luggage believed to be part of a shady drug deal.

Now two years on, Lisa Berwick still has no ideas what happened to her 22-year-old son Liam, or her ex-husband Danny, 46.

Heartbroken Lisa says she’s been left to investigate their suspected murders herself because Spanish authorities closed the case just five months after the pair disappeared off the face of the earth. 

"No one is interested in getting to the truth of what happened to Liam and Danny," Lisa, from West Sussex, tells The Sun.

"The police here have told us time and again that Spain is leading on this investigation, but now it seems no proactive policing has been done for almost two years.

"They tell me to try and find closure on this because they can see how fragile I am, but it’s not sympathy I want, it’s answers and now it appears I’m going to have to get them myself."

'Time's up'

Lisa and her family lived their worst nightmare when they received terrifying ransom messages following Liam's disappearance.

Car mechanic Danny and IT technician Liam had travelled to the organised crime hotspot of Estepona along with a suitcase full of money on March 31, 2019.

Anguished relatives last heard from the father and son pair the following day.

Forty-eight hours later, the first ransom demand arrived from a phone number registered in Morocco. 

The message, addressed to Liam’s sister Lauryn, read: "If you want to see your dad and brother alive again, come to Tangier with £100K. You have 24 hours."

I cried my eyes out. I was in floods of tears. I asked them, ‘Is this it now?’

A source revealed how British detectives whisked beautician Lauryn, 21, to a hotel hideaway where she was wired up in the hope of communicating with the ‘kidnappers’.

The family scrambled to raise the ransom cash while Lauryn spent a week messaging her dad and brother’s apparent captors to arrange the money-drop.

But after days of ominous silence she then received a chilling second message saying: “Time’s up.”

Danny and Liam have never been seen or heard from again.

Crime world connection

Lisa believes ex Danny – who she was married to until 2011 – and son Liam disappeared following a drug deal gone wrong.

Danny, who is also dad to son Louis, had served a prison sentence for selling cannabis around the time Liam was born, and ran a hydroponics business in Crawley, Sussex, alongside his car paint shop. 

The family say he had already made a trip to Estepona with Liam around three weeks before they went missing.

The duo flew out again from Gatwick Airport on March 31 carrying the £20K in cash, which has also never been recovered. 

They checked into Estepona’s Valle Romano hotel and met two British crooks – thought to be among the last to see them alive – for dinner at a Chinese restaurant on April 1.

They’re basically leaving a grieving mother to investigate her son’s disappearance.

"We’ve been told the Spanish police have CCTV of Liam and Danny in the restaurant," Lisa says.

"I’m desperate to see it as it’s likely to show some of my son’s last hours. I’ve asked and asked, but it’s not been forthcoming."

The last known sighting of Danny – who family say was planning to buy property on the Costa del Sol – came the next morning when he was caught on CCTV leaving the Valle Romano alone by car.

Lisa’s last contact with Liam was on March 31 when he texted her to wish her a happy Mother’s Day.

Danny and Liam’s hire car was discovered abandoned two miles from their hotel a month after they went missing. 

Crooks quizzed

The Sun knows the identities of the two British criminals who met Danny and Liam – but is withholding them following legal advice. 

One of the men has been linked to another high-profile, unsolved disappearance in Spain and is thought to have connections to organised crime. 

The other is a convicted thug currently serving an eight year sentence in a UK jail for aggravated burglary. 

Police in Malaga told The Sun they arrested both men in June 2019 for being the “alleged perpetrators of the disappearance of Daniel and Liam Poole.” 

A spokesperson said: “According to the investigation, they were the last people who were with them, although they denied this and did not testify at the police headquarters.”

Spanish authorities were leading the probe into the disappearance with assistance from Sussex Police.

Ultimately, we have no jurisdiction to carry out an investigation in Spain.

Investigations in Spain are conducted in secret and overseen by judges, meaning detectives released scant information to Danny and Liam’s family.

However, a spokesperson for the Superior Court of Andalucia told The Sun the case was closed on September 17, 2019, due to lack of evidence.

“If there is more evidence, it could be reopened,” the spokesperson said. 

Sussex Police said in a statement that the force is cooperating with authorities overseas – but admitted the case in Spain had been closed. 

A spokesperson said: “This is and always has been a Spanish judicial-led investigation and the role of Sussex Police has been to support that by completing UK-based enquiries and family liaison. 

“We have been kept updated in relation to the enquiries completed and their outcome, all of which has been passed on to the family.”

Mother's desperation

A source close to the family said they now believed the ransom demand was really just a smokescreen to distract them from the real perpetrators.

Meanwhile Lisa says she has been told she will have to travel to Spain and hire a Spanish lawyer if she wants to obtain police files on her son’s disappearance.

"Sussex Police told me they weren’t going to get the files and, if I wanted them, I’d have to go over there myself.

"I cried my eyes out. I was in floods of tears. I asked them, ‘Is this it now?’

"They looked at me and nodded. They’re basically leaving a grieving mother to investigate her son’s disappearance. 

Unfortunately we see this all the time.

"I’m expected to walk into the town where Liam and Danny were most likely murdered, and poke around asking questions. 

"I know I’ll be putting myself in danger, but if that’s what it’s going to take, I’ll have to do it.

"If police here don’t have a file themselves in English how can they possibly know what the Spanish police have done in terms of investigation?"

'Absolutely heartbreaking'

Sussex Police commented: "Whilst it would be useful to have a copy of the Spanish investigation file for our records and any future proceedings, we are not entitled to this and it would not affect any outcome.

"Ultimately, we have no jurisdiction to carry out an investigation in Spain.

"We continue to investigate any viable lines of enquiry in the UK and any significant information yielded as part of these ongoing enquiries will be passed onto Spanish police for their consideration."

All I can say is, don’t give up.

Kim Spooner, who set up the charity Murdered Abroad after sister Lianne Burns was killed in the Caribbean, said Lisa’s plight was all too common in cases of homicide overseas. 

"Unfortunately we see this all the time. It’s absolutely heartbreaking," Kim says.

"Families shouldn’t have to fight for justice when they’re grieving and facing the most traumatic moment of their lives. 

"All I can say is, don’t give up. If you’ve got the energy and ability, keep fighting.

"We’re here to help because we know that doing it on your own is a really lonely journey.”

Reformed bank robber turned legal fixer Jason Coghlan of Marbella-based JaCog Law added: "Police in Spain and police in the UK literally don’t speak the same language. 

"Any claim of cooperation is an illusion."

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